On Wednesday, January 10, 2018 we hosted #FosterChat on Twitter (@SaintAorg), in partnership with the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families. January’s topic was on how trauma has an impact on foster youth. According to our Twitter snapshot on Union Metrics, our twitter chat had over 64,000 potential impressions, reaching 7,361 people.
If you missed this month’s #FosterChat, you can join us next month as we discuss Sibling Relationships – A Love Like No Other on Wednesday, February 14 at Noon (CST). Below is our recap of our chat.
Q1: What is trauma?
A1: The emotional response someone has to an extremely negative event or experience. While trauma is a normal reaction to a deeply distressing event or experience, the effects can be so severe that they interfere with an individual’s ability to live a normal life. #FosterChat— SaintA (@SaintAorg) January 10, 2018
A1: Trauma is an experience with an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds a person's ability to cope or make sense of the emotions involved. Trauma can look a lot like other diagnoses, including ADHD, anger, anxiety, depression, or defiant behaviors. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) January 10, 2018
Q2: How can trauma impact a child’s development?
A2.b: It is important to understand that a child’s developmental age may be different than their chronological age due to the impact of trauma. #FosterChat— SaintA (@SaintAorg) January 10, 2018
A2: Trauma can delay, stunt, or cause regression in social, emotional, or physical development. It can "freeze" children at the age of trauma. This happens in the emotional portion of the brain and kids can't always verbalize what's going on. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) January 10, 2018
A2: Trauma has the potential of impacting child develop. in neg & pos ways depending on the severity and frequency, as well as the protective buffers in one's life, it can either insult development across life domains and/or build resiliency when adversity is overcome #fosterchat— Lamar X (@LamarXcks) January 10, 2018
A2- What about children who were in foster care then adopted at a very young age (before they can remember). They can also suffer as well…— The Adoption Option (@Adoption_Option) January 10, 2018
Q3: How can a child’s sense of personal safety be affected by trauma?
A3: Trauma erodes a child’s sense of safety, often children with a trauma history may perceive threats to their safety in situations where others may not. Entering foster care can be a frightening experience full of unknowns. #FosterChat— SaintA (@SaintAorg) January 10, 2018
A3: Children can have overdeveloped or underdeveloped reactions to danger. They can be triggered into fight, flight, or freeze mode much more quickly or seem to have no fear of danger. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) January 10, 2018
A3. Children can feel unsafe in all situations when they have experienced trauma even when we perceive that the situation is safe. #fosterchat— Stephanie Allen (@mrsstepallen81) January 10, 2018
Q4: How does trauma influence relationships?
A4.2: Strong relationships help create resilience and shield a child from the effects of trauma. #FosterChat— SaintA (@SaintAorg) January 10, 2018
A4: Trauma's impact on a child's brain can make it difficult to attach to a caregiver, to make or maintain family relationships and friendships. Kids may not understand boundaries of healthy relationships and may be defiant or oppositional. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) January 10, 2018
A4 After a traumatic childhood, I would think trust would not be an easy thing to come by. #fosterchat— Michelle Sieg (@MichelleSieg) January 10, 2018
Q5: As a foster parent, how can you support a child with a history of trauma?
A5: Your perspective in any given situation affects your response, a shift in perspective can bring a new reality, allowing you as the parent to approach situations from a position of understanding. #FosterChat pic.twitter.com/9kSp5EIc9B— SaintA (@SaintAorg) January 10, 2018
A5.2: For children in foster care, often this is changing the question from "What’s wrong with you?" to "What has happened to you, and how can I support you?" #FosterChat— SaintA (@SaintAorg) January 10, 2018
A5: Learn what you can about the trauma a child has faced. Seek out information about trauma-informed parenting and how trauma affects a child's brain. Get to know the child's triggers, as well as your own triggers. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) January 10, 2018
A5: Have patience. Remember: it isn't "what's wrong with" a child, but rather, "what happened to" a child. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) January 10, 2018
A5. Identify their triggers— Foster Love Project (@FosterLovePgh) January 10, 2018
Give them safe boundaries
Know they're going to experience big emotions. Don't escalate with them. #fosterchat
Q6: What are some ways to help foster children handle stressors and manage their feelings, behaviors and reactions?
A6.b: Choose activities the child enjoys and can succeed in several times a day (don't force it) – during play time, on errands, after school, after dinner, at bedtime… #FosterChat— SaintA (@SaintAorg) January 10, 2018
A6: Model healthy coping skills, teach them tools and strategies to handle big emotions, and communicate unconditional acceptance. Be committed to learning parenting techniques and remember that a child's behaviors are a response to trauma. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) January 10, 2018
A6: We use 6 core trauma healing elements to help our youth overcome their pasts. These elements are relational, relevant, repetitive, rewarding, rhythmic & respectful. https://t.co/HA3njT7OPm #FosterChat https://t.co/uYm3PYAJBf— The Village Network (@TVillageNetwork) January 10, 2018
A6. What I liked to do was to let my kids do what made them feel safe. My daughter liked to journal and draw when she was not feeling her best and it helped her tremendously. Also we had her in dance and it engaged her body to release some of those built up tensions #fosterchat— Stephanie Allen (@mrsstepallen81) January 10, 2018
Q7: How can you help your foster child discover their sense of purpose?
A7: Giving children a 'reason to be' creates a sense of purpose or direction by ensuring connections to family, community, and culture. Kids in foster care need people, relationships and an environment in which they can build resiliency. #FosterChat— SaintA (@SaintAorg) January 10, 2018
A7: Introduce them to new experiences. Teach them self-confidence and be open to new things alongside the child. Give them opportunities to be successful and offer them control in areas where it's safe and appropriate. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) January 10, 2018
A7: promoting resilience, connection not correction. Having at least one person to nurture, mobilize, protect and restore attachment relationships, cognitive functioning #fosterchat— Fostering Footprints (@Fosterfootprint) January 10, 2018
Q8: How can you build characteristics of resilience with foster children?
A8.b: You can also help them separate themselves from their adversity and have a positive outlook for their future, despite difficult or traumatic experiences. #FosterChat— SaintA (@SaintAorg) January 10, 2018
A8: Provide encouragement after periods of struggle. Model resilience, use your own mistakes as teaching moments. Teach resilience and growth by growing with them. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) January 10, 2018
A8 Share positive stories about their past and family history #fosterchat— Socialworkcommunity (@socialworkcomm) January 10, 2018
A huge thank you to our passionate community for sharing such great answers in this chat! We look forward to seeing you again next month!
Learn more about becoming a foster parent at GrowHope.net!
Thank you for joining today's #FosterChat with @CoalitionforCYF! Keep an eye out for our recap tomorrow.— SaintA (@SaintAorg) January 10, 2018
Our next topic will be Sibling Relationships: A Live Like No Other on Feb. 14 – perfect for Valentine's Day! pic.twitter.com/8Fap2qx1vn