Lorimer - At the heart of fostering

How To Develop Boundaries With Your Foster Child

Posted on 12th May 2017 by

As a foster parent, one of the most important and most challenging parts of your day will be the importance of developing boundaries with the children and young people in your care.

The ability to develop healthy boundaries is something that can take time to master, as each situation will be different and have it’s own unique challenges to the next one. Unfortunately, a lot of children and young people who come into foster care will have experienced poor boundaries in their lifetime.

Secure boundaries need to be set by the foster parent, and not negotiated by the child. Create rules and routines like meal times, bed times, homework time, and tv time — that are set and monitored by you. These will help the child to know their boundaries, but will also create predictability in your foster child’s life. Predictability also reduces uncertainty, and that reduces anxiety.

More often than not, a foster child will have previously had no boundaries set for them, and while they think they they don’t need them – they really do. Foster children are likely to rebel against boundaries because they may have had to look after themselves in the past – so they don’t feel as though they need you, or anyone, telling them what to do.

As a foster parents you should never value a child’s self-expression over a child’s sense of security. Setting boundaries doesn’t make you a mean or unfair foster parent, even if your child says that to you at the time. When a foster child tries to negotiate a later bed time this comes at a cost of your foster child’s sense of security because it allows the child to feel he or she has more power than the adult.

At the other end of the spectrum, a lack of boundaries can create narcissism in children. For many foster families, a child’s emotional needs and desires can run the foster parent’s whole day rather – than the other way around. Narcissism is normal and developmentally appropriate in small children, but unless the early-development narcissism is disrupted, foster children may continue to feel like the world revolves around them and become narcissistic adults.

Whether they’re emotional or physical boundaries, being able to establish and maintain them with your foster child is a crucial factor to the success of the relationship between foster family and child. With the right training and guidance, in addition to the support you’ll receive during each placement by our team, we know you’ll have no problem in creating a wonderful relationship with a foster child from the very start.


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