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A Wisconsin foster parent is overwhelmed with toddlers in her care and reached out for advice on social media. Sadly, her feelings of frustration, exhaustion, and helplessness are common. If you want to become a foster parent to younger kids these testimonies may be a much-needed reality check. If you think younger kids are easier to foster than older kids these foster moms will give you lots to think about. These foster parent stories are real, raw, and honest.
I think we are going to ask for our placement to be moved. I feel awful and never thought we would be in this position.
A week ago we took a placement with a 3 and 5-year old that the agency didn't know much about. The 5-year-old has nonstop tantrums all day long over everything and anything. The tantrums get physical pretty quick (hitting, kicking, biting, chucking things, and destroying the house). Although we have seen a tiny amount of progress in her, this is exhausting and I don't think we can handle it much longer. It is mentally and physically taking a toll on us and we are running on fumes.
I feel your pain. We just took on two boys three and four, two weeks ago. One of them has non-stop tantrums and does exactly what you described. We try to sit with him in the room and completely ignore him and let him have his tantrums but know that he is not alone. During this time he will punch and head butt and kick and I will protect myself by moving him or standing up against the wall facing the wall and follow guidelines that I am allowed to do what I need to do to stop him from harming me or himself. My foster son has had 5 placements in six months. I believe he is taking back some control and before he is moved he is trying to take control and make us angry so that he gets to move again because that's what he's used to. That might not be it at all but this is some of the worst behaviors I have ever witnessed. I never imagined little kids could be so damaged. It is heartbreaking!
Our 4-year-old did this for the first 8 months we had him. He even climbed on my back and bit me many times. We would have to take everything out of his room and I mean everything except the bed. We recorded many of these episodes to show our caseworker. The caseworker finally agreed to get him an appointment with a doctor who diagnosed him with PTSD and ADD. They gave him medication to help control his behaviors and after a while we saw some improvement. We also got him into daycare for behaviors where he gets to work one on one with someone every day. He is still with us today and has been in our home for 2 years now.
11 months ago we got a 3 1/2-year-old boy that was the same way. He is still with us. He is much improved but still has a lot of room to grow. He ended up having a diagnosis of PTSD. It's been a long hard road but it's worth it and it's nice to see how much he's improved. It certainly wasn't easy and we considered giving up too early on. Now he gets several types of therapy and a lot of services and support including parent coaching for us and other things.
Our 4 yr old was like this and some other issues. He was diagnosed with RAD, mild autism, ADHD, and sound speech disorder! We have had him 14 months and I can say it’s been really hard! If it wasn’t for his therapist and our caseworker we would have given up. We also have his 2-year-old brother now for 17 months and he is one of the reasons we have pushed so hard to help him. The 2-year-old thankfully is just a normal terrible two which isn’t so fun, but we can handle it! Before us, the 4-year-old was in 5 homes in 4 months and left at daycare by two of the homes because the caseworker didn’t have anywhere to take him and they couldn’t handle it anymore. We are setting up child mental health therapy services and hope to get him the help he needs that we can't give him.
We’ve had our 6-year-old foster daughter for a month now. At first, the tantrums were CONSTANT. Now we’re down to 10-15 per day. It’s getting better and they’re getting shorter.
We took on a 4-year-old girl and 3-year-old sister and we felt the same. We have had them for almost 10 weeks now and have seen big improvements. I felt I couldn't do it at first. She was violent to her sister, screaming, turning the house upside down at least 4 or 5 times a day. We have constantly explained to her that this is now how we behave, lots of positive encouragement for the good things, told her to deal with her anger by scrunching her sheets in her room or blowing up an imaginary balloon. Spent a lot of time in her bedroom during the first few days. Timeouts (time in with me on the couch didn't work at all!) Please give it more time, it may get better quicker than you think.
My foster daughter now 7 was just like this, even included spitting in my face, throwing meals across the room, head butting me. It was horrible in the beginning. And still can be at times. I learned she was acting out because she couldn't express herself and it frustrated her to a point of anger, the only emotion she knew. After several months of OT and counseling, and a lot of patience and one on one time, she's doing so much better. It's not an instant fix and takes a long time but the bond you build with these kids is amazing. I know it's exhausting! Hang in there if you can. With the proper services, it will get better.
I have 2 kids of my own 8 and 12 and now I have 3 foster kids. They're 3, 6, and 10. They've come from a violent drug-fueled home. Hate and anger are all they know. I still have my days where I don't know how I'll handle it but I know we have so much love to give and things to teach them. All 3 are in therapy and we have not had any crazy tantrums in a couple of months. I feel like we are working through and making progress. Fight for them to get the services they need. We still struggle and days are not always easy but it is so worth it.
I am a former foster child. In my biological home, I was taught that whoever screamed the loudest and whoever could physically dominate everyone else, was the boss. If you’re looking for only sweet, well-behaved children with no problems, fostering may not be for you. I’m not saying things can’t or won’t change, but it takes, TIME, PATIENCE and CONSISTENCY. If you are able to stick with it, I promise, the payoff is huge!
If you choose not to stick with it, thank you for your honesty and courage. Whatever you choose, make sure you’re sure. You have a choice, the foster kids do not. You may think you’re hiding it, but kids know when you have one foot out the door. They won’t tell you in words, but I promise the behavior will worsen. Thank you for the honesty and vulnerability of your post.
WOW! This is a reality for so many foster parents. Childhood trauma is real and tragic. Although we don't place many kids under age 5 here at CCR, when we do, these are the behaviors we see. The school-age children we place have similar trauma histories and if they have never gotten therapy services, mental health support, or been in a foster home with qualified & trained foster parents, the road can be very difficult.
We are happy to speak with you about different age groups and what fostering may look like for you and your family.