Saturday, November 3, 2012

Holler, shout, kick, scream, and bite

Life with foster children can be incredibly challenging. I am sure I could write a lot about the wonderful times, I think people want to know about the tough stuff too.

I have had many a toddler (or 7 year old with toddler-like behavior) in my home. Having ran an in-home child are for nearly 8 years before embarking in foster care, I have seen a lot. The kids in child are varied from family to family as to what was an acceptable way to demonstrate anger, sadness and frustration, most choices were tolerable for me and my family.

Foster kids on the other hand, have had an even more varied and unstable home life leading them to some pretty ugly places when they have those same feelings. We have had some incredibly talented screamers, whose superpowers allow them to scream incredibly loud and high pitched and sound like someone is trying to murder them for periods of time up to 5 hours. It is ear shattering. It is patience testing. At times, it's unbearable.

We have our own way to deal with it, acceptable to some, perhaps not to others. Children are allowed to scream as long and as loud as they want, only they must do it in their bedroom with the door shut, or weather permitting the may go outside and hoot and holler in the pasture. The choice of location is not theirs, the duration of the tantrum is. I believe this takes away the power they are trying to gain over the poor people forced to hear and witness the tantrum. If it doesn't bother us, it loses leverage.

Then there are the biters. Biting is nasty and mean. Biting is incredibly personal. Biting is dangerous, especially if the skin is broken, and often times it is. Mouths are full of germs that can cause infection in the poor human being bitten. Biting is simply not tolerated. A child who bites is put in a time out chair and instructed to keep their hands over their mouth, because their mouth was mean and bit. First though the child who was bitten is cuddled and loved on with a lot of " I am so sorry so-and-so bite you. His mouth was mean. Are you ok? Do you want ice for your boo boo?" You get the idea. Very little time is spent with the biter. "You sir, need to put your hands on your mouth and sit in time-out. We bite food, not people." Is this effective? Sometimes. It usually is to some degree. It makes the biter aware that he or she will not get what they want by biting and intact will win attention for the child they have chosen to bite..... If the child is old enough, he will be able to make retribution for biting by spending at least 30 minutes playing with the child they bit, whatever that bitten child wants to play.


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