Tip Sheet Tuesday: What Do These Behaviors Mean?

“I’m a convert!” said one formerly skeptical Wisconsin foster-adoptive parent. “It really is all about fear, and sometimes it really is as simple as asking, ‘What are you afraid of?’”

Kim talks about how frustrated she was in not being able to break through her daughter’s defiance. Finally one day while driving, she asked her daughter, “You don’t act out at school, right? But you do with me. Why is that?” Right away her daughter answered, “I’m afraid that Monique [her daughter’s biological mom] is drinking again and if she drinks, she might hurt someone and I don’t want her to go to jail.”What Do These Behaviors Mean?

Kim was stunned. She had no idea how much her daughter still thought about her past and how scared she was to have someone she loved potentially be incarcerated. What’s more, Kim was surprised that there was no real link to the “why” behind her daughter’s behaviors and her daughter’s fears. Like most of us, Kim was taking her daughter’s outbursts personally.

While Kim says that she was glad for the immediate breakthrough in that particular incident, she also admits that it wasn’t the cure-all she was hoping for and didn’t always have the same results in other attempts.

Not An Easy Fix
As with other parenting approaches, this is not an easy fix. It may not generate immediate results, but over time, it can help you with your child’s most challenging behaviors. Heather Forbes wrote about a lot of these behaviors in her book, Beyond Consequences Logic and Control: A Love Based Approach to Helping Children with Severe Behaviors.

Here are some different approaches that may help in understanding some of the most challenging behaviors.

Fear and Stress: Most children lack the words and understanding to identify what they are feeling and what they need. Instead, children may act out when the emotions are too big or scary. Often, the emotion causing the behaviors is fear— triggered especially when too much stress is present. It’s hard when your own stress level is high, but try to respond to the fear behind your child’s actual behavior.

The following behaviors are common in children who have had a history of trauma or challenges with attachment. Some behaviors, however, are just ingrained in people—every child is born with a certain temperament and resilience level.

Aggression: A child displaying aggression can be scary to encounter. Kim says that even though her six-year-old can be completely heart melting at times, the sheer rage continues to amaze her. “It’s a shock to hear someone that little and sweet have so much hate directed at you and to have her use the f bomb, threats to kill and gestures that she does. It’s hard to think of her as vulnerable.”

Continue reading on our website.

Under the Umbrella: Trauma and Trauma Informed Care

For many people, simply hearing the word trauma causes a strong and immediate reaction. Perhaps a quick intake of breath or a shudder down your spine; or maybe a picture that flashes through your mind. Whatever it is, it is likely not a positive reaction. Sometimes, for some parents, our own reactions to trauma — even just the word — can make working with children who have experienced trauma scary.

If you have been around the world foster care or adoption for any amount of time, you have likely heard about Trauma Informed Care (TIC). TIC means taking a child’s past trauma experiences into consideration when thinking about how to care for him today and in the future. Trauma experiences manifest differently in every child, and not all concerning behavior is the result of trauma. However, for some children, certain behaviors were learned and adapted as a response to abuse, neglect, or mistreatment he or she child was facing. These behaviors become maladaptive once the child is in a safe place.

As parents and caregivers, it’s sometimes difficult to know if a certain behavior is typical or not. This website from the Child Welfare Information Gateway may be a helpful starting point to learn more about child development and may help you determine the care plan for the child or youth in your home.

Every child that comes into your care will have had a different experience and unique ways of coping with those events. Many parents learn the most by listening and observing the child. If you see or hear something that causes you concern, please know that you can reach out for help. You can start by calling us (414-475-1246 or 800-762-8063) and speaking to a Resource Specialist. We can listen and lend support and possibly refer you to a professional who may be beneficial to you, the child, and your family.

Featured Tip Sheets

World Wide Wednesday, July 29, 2015

iStock_000003621765_LargeIt’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s news in the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

Have news you’d like to share? Please post in our comments!

Inclusion in this post does not imply an endorsement by the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families. The Coalition is not responsible for the content of these resources.

Tip Sheet Tuesday: Establishing Household Rules

The social worker has just called and asked for placement today! The child will soon be here! Your mind is filled with a whirlwind of questions! What will the child be like? What has she gone through? What will she expect? What rules is she used to?

Not only do you have plenty of questions but, upon entering care, children also have many questions about your family and how it works.

Picture1By talking over house rules, the children in your home will know what you expect from them, and also what they may expect from you. Families in foster care and adoption can succeed if they know what to expect.

The Initial Meeting
When first meeting with the caseworker, child, child’s parent(s) and previous caretaker, discuss the special needs, strengths, and culture of that child. Talk with the team about the success of previous limits and rules. Were these useful in allowing the youth and others to be safe and did the child learn from these guidelines? Are there suggestions from the team for creating specific rules based on previous successes or court-ordered rules?

Basic Rule Setting
As a means of preparation for meeting with the child and the team, create basic house rules that can be applied to most of the family. Put the rules in writing with clear and brief language that can be understood and enforced such as, “Always knock on doors before entering.” Simple, positive words are most effective.

Depending on the age, developmental level, and culture of the foster children, the rules will need to fit their level of understanding as well as their culture.

In many religions (Muslim, Jewish, and Christianity, for example), fasting or particular foods are not to be eaten during certain seasons or celebrations. In some cultures, showering or socializing for females while they have their periods is not allowed. And most black children, for example, have different hair and skin care needs than most white children.

Continue reading on our website.

Under the Umbrella: Summer Safety Tips for the Driveway

We asked our friends at Children’s Community Health Plan to share asummer health and safety tip for this week’s Under the Umbrella. Below you’ll find some tips for driveway safety – great information for all parents and kids!


Kids love cars, and when they see a parked car, they don’t even think about the possibility of getting hurt or seriously injured. That’s why parents have to be extra careful. Here are a few tips to keep your kids safe in and around cars.


Top Safety Tips

  • We know you’re often in a hurry, but before you drive away, take a few seconds to walk all the way around your parked car to check for children.
  • When checking for kids around your vehicle, see if anything that could attract a child, such as a pet, bike or toy, is under or behind your vehicle before getting in and starting the engine.
  • Identify and use safe play areas for children, away from parked or moving vehicles. Teach kids to play in these areas instead of in, around or behind a car.
  • Accompany kids when they get in and out of a vehicle. Hold their hands while walking near moving vehicles or in driveways and parking lots or on sidewalks.
  • Don’t allow children to play unattended in parking lots when cars are present.

Need some more tips about driveway safety? Head over to safekids.org.

Upcoming Training: Social Media Safety

Social media changes almost daily. It seems as though upgrades, updates, new platforms, and other changes take effect as soon as we learn how to navigate each site! It’s no wonder that many foster and adoptive parents find themselves confused and wondering how they can keep up with this evolving technology.

In this training, we will provide you with an overview of today’s most active social media sites, as well as how to keep yourself and the children in your care safe.There is a lot to learn and we can help you get started!

About the Trainer: Rachel Goeden, MSW, APSW
An adoptive parent as well as a social worker and trainer at the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families. After being hesitant to sign up for MySpace in college, Rachel has since developed a passion for utilizing the positive benefits of social media. She not only contributes to the social media marketing efforts at the Coalition, but also runs her own website and blog.

$60/agency group

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
6-8 p.m.

Ives Groves Office Complex
14200 Washington Avenue
Sturtevant, WI 53177
Attend via webinar
Register online
Questions? Contact info@coalitionforcyf.org or call 414-475-1246

World Wide Wednesday, July 22, 2015

iStock_000003621765_LargeIt’s World Wide Wednesday! Here’s what’s news in the world of foster care and adoption around the web:

  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Facts and Resources.
  • International Adoption: Bulgaria.
  • Connections for Success: Research has shown that number one indicator of success for youth in foster care is a positive relationship with a caring adult. Mentoring programs for older youth in foster care and foster care alumni build connections that can support the transition into adulthood. This video demonstrates the importance of mentoring on not only vulnerable youth, but also the benefits on the mentors themselves.
  • Top 10 Things to Make a Foster Child’s First Day Easier: Little things matter and set the tone for things to come.

Have news you’d like to share? Please post in our comments!

Inclusion in this post does not imply an endorsement by the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families. The Coalition is not responsible for the content of these resources.