Tag Archives: Children

The Importance of Laughter and Play for Children in Foster Care

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It was noisy.

The seven year old was laughing. Laughing very, very loudly. Running through the house, the little blond haired boy was chasing our five year old daughter. Indeed, both were laughing, and the noise was echoing through the entire house. It wasn’t long before they begun this game of chase that our three year old joined in.

It was noisy. And, it was beautiful.

For the first time, our seven year old son from foster care was laughing. In fact, it was the first time the seven year old had even smiled in our home. Andrew had been living with us for four months, placed into our foster home due to severe and horrific abuse from the hands of his mother; his mother, the person who was supposed to shield her own son from all harm. Instead, his mother had abused her son so traumatically over a long period of time in his short life that Andrew had never really been given the opportunity to laugh. This innocent seven year old child had never known what it was like to, quite simply, have fun; never given a reason to smile.

The first months of Andrew’s time in our house often saw my other children, both biological and adoptive, try to invite their newest foster sibling into their world of play and imagination. At each invite, and each opportunity, Andrew would instead cling to my wife and I, choosing not to engage with the others. When either my wife or I were in the kitchen cooking, in the bedroom folding clothes, or other house duties, the seven year old would stand closely next to one of us. If either of us were sitting down, the child would sit next to us. Either way, he would never speak, simply cling to us, in his own world of trauma and anxiety.

Today, though, was different. For some time, Andrew was watching some of the other children playing in the lounge room, while my I was in the other other room, taking care of the dirty laundry. Perhaps it was the consistent approach from my children; perhaps it was his curiosity; perhaps he realized that his siblings from foster care were not going to hurt him. Whatever it was, Andrew finally joined in, and when he did, it was as if the flood gates of laughter had opened. I watched in amazement as this seven year old, this seven year old who never once expressed any emotion of happiness, joy, or amusement, was laughing. This seven year old boy was healing.

Laughter and play are wonderful ways for children in foster care to begin their healing process, as they help these children in need cope with their stresses, traumas, and anxieties. Indeed, as children in foster care begin to find a sense of humor, they will find it to be a resourceful tool they can use. As Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D. states,
“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.” Continue reading

Battling the Myths of Foster Care

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There’s an ongoing battle to tear down the myths about foster care. In a recent NPR interview, one foster parent discussed the negative impressions that the public is often given related to foster care—and how it’s a barrier to the great work that can be accomplished: “I think all too often the focus is on the negative and not on the good things that happen, the kids that were reunited with their family or the adoption.”

To hFoster-Care-IG-for-Publish-Smallelp counteract negative perspectives and continue to educate Master of Social work students and social service professionals, SocialWork@Simmons created “The Facts of Foster Care.” This infographic provides the latest objective and authoritative data published by collecting bureaus related to foster children and foster families—as well as data that will help to dispel myths about foster care. The goal is to achieve better support for those who need it most—especially the children and those who are caring for them. Continue reading

Foster Children and Online Technology: A Feeling of Control- A World of Danger

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Curtis was not in control. In fact, he had no control with just about everything in his life. After all, Curtis was in foster care.

Thirteen year old Curtis was placed into foster care after suffering neglect from a mother who was addicted to and sold illegal drugs. The teenager had been separated from his other two siblings, a younger brother and sister, as there were no foster homes in the area able to take in three children at that time. The foster teen’s father had been in and out of the family’s life, just as he had been in and out of jail. When Curtis arrived in his new foster home, he was confused, he was lonely, and he was scared. Curtis had been taken from everything he knew. He had been taken from his mother, his father, his brother, and his sister. He had been taken from his bedroom, his toys, his baseball card collection, his pet dog, his house, his home. The teen had been taken from his grandparents, his aunts, his uncles, his cousins, his neighbors, his friends, his teachers, and his classmates. Indeed, Curtis had been taken from everything that was familiar to him, everything he knew, and everything he loved. Continue reading

Care Connects WWII Survivors and Syrian Refugees to Bring Happiness

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As of almost 1 year ago, there were more than 4 million Syrian refugees, a number that increases daily as conflict grows across Europe. Babies are being born in refugee camps. Children are experiencing years meant for exploration, imagination and fun in a landscape that is scary, violent and often times changing moment to moment. They’ve experienced loss at far too young an age but they are not alone in this.

Care is an organization responsible for sending care packages to children affected by WWII. If anyone understands even a margin of what modern children in war-torn nations are experiencing, it is the survivors of WWII who are now being recruited by Care to write letters to children receiving packages today. Care was created in 1945

Does he go to school? Does he have a father? Does he have something to play with? I never played as a kid.
-WWII Survivor And Letter Writer

The first 20,000 Care packages reached the shores of France in 1946 and 70 years later, Care packages are still arriving on far off shores. Today those Care packages include letters from alumni who seek to help children feel known, heard and understood in this time of crisis. Watch their story: Continue reading

How to Encourage Your Kid’s Communication And Productivity Skills

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By Samantha Madhosingh
www.askdrsamantha.com

Productive, confident adults…that is what we all hope our kids will develop into. There are very specific strategies that increase the odds of making that hope all parents have a reality, so let’s dive in.

Communication with Confidence

Empowering children with the skills of effective listening, self-advocacy, standing up for themselves, and the ability to communicate their needs, are some of the critical communication tools they will need from the preschool classroom to the boardroom.

These are the foundation skills of leadership development and can even prevent your child from being the victim of bullying and abuse.  You want your kids to be able to say “No” to other peers or adults who may attempt to harm them.  Practice with them through role plays, and show them how to be assertive, ask for what they want, and listen carefully to what others are saying. Continue reading

6 Ways to Tell Your Child About Your Addiction

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By Dr. Patricia Ryding

The involvement of your family is an important part of a healthy recovery from substance addiction—and that doesn’t just mean the adults in the picture. Sobriety is about love and connection, and if you have children, that love and connection is vital to creating a space in which your entire family thrives.

However, at the beginning of your journey, that connection might be damaged, especially if your children witnessed your substance-fueled behavior. Because the substance has stood between you and your loved ones for a while, it might be hard to bridge that gap, especially at the beginning. That’s completely understandable, but it doesn’t have to stop you from sharing with your children.

Children are highly aware of their surroundings, so they probably have picked up on some issues. A child might not be able to express what they have processed about your struggle up to this point, but rest assured that they have noted it. Now ask them to join into strengthening your lives together. You are building a new life walking away from those substance issues, so ask your children to join with you in your journey.

Here are some things to keep in mind. Continue reading

Kids and These Presidential Debates

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There was a moment in the middle of the Republican debate last night, while Trump was shouting, “Little Marco spews his crap about the size of my hands!” that I muted the television and asked my daughters, “Should we actually be watching this?”

We have watched, as a family, most of the Democratic and Republican debates. My girls and I watched Hillary Clinton at the Benghazi hearings. As a parent, I feel that these forums are allowing my family to discuss the issues, but also watch the body language, tone of voice, and how people treat each other.

My daughters are in 8th grade and 5th grade. They are intelligent, empathetic, globally aware children. As a family, we have always discussed difficult issues together whether it’s a girls right to go to school, the water situation in Flint, the lack of justice for the shooting of a young black boy or what it means to be a refugee from a war torn country. Our extended family is on a group text where we share articles and thoughts on current events. My 8th grade daughter participates in debate tournaments and is adept at researching both sides of an issue, gathering facts and cultivating sound arguments. My husband and I have never shied away from exposing our girls to hard issues – always mindful that we do it in an age appropriate way. At 14 and 11 years old, we have felt they are old enough now to not only process, but also participate in this year’s election.

Yet, the spectacle and degradation of last night’s debate made me pause. Just a few days before, Van Jones, a former Obama staffer and commentator on CNN, had an unbelievable interaction with Jeffrey Lord, a former Reagan staffer, about the KKK. In his emotion, he mentioned that he felt it was no longer appropriate for his son to watch the media which glorifies the sensational statements of Donald Trump. Continue reading

Being the Role Model your Foster Child Needs

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Role models. They are everywhere. A few years back, controversy was stirred when a professional athlete once stated that he was not a role model. Unfortunately, this is not true for you. As a foster parent, you will be a role model for countless people, as many eyes will be upon you. Not only will you be a role model for your foster children, but for the public, as a whole. After all, not many in our society know what foster parenting or foster care is really about. If you are like me, your own friends and family members don’t even really know what you do. Gosh! I have written several books on foster care, have a radio show and a weekly video series, and have spoken to countless organizations. Yet, my own family doesn’t really appreciate what my wife and I do on a daily basis as foster parents. Continue reading

Making Gratitude A Daily Practice In Your Kids Life

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By: Meghan S. Phillips

Gratefulness and thankfulness are both positive feelings and important factors when it comes to raising happy, responsible and authentic kids. When we think positively we attract more positive, which leads to attracting more abundance. And who doesn’t want a little of that?

Getting in the space of feeling grateful can help develop the habit of naturally seeing the silver lining, despite what you are going through. Surprisingly, it didn’t dawn on me until recently to start talking to my kids about the practice of gratitude.  Continue reading

Hillary Clinton: Life Lessons from the Benghazi Testimony

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Yesterday, when my daughters and I came home after school, I put on the live stream of Hillary Clinton testifying before the Benghazi hearings.

I’m not sure if they were 6, 7 or 8 hours into grilling Hillary Clinton yet, but at that particular moment, a Republican congressman was shouting at her. My girls watched, first with horror and then laughing – who is that man? (Actually, my 11 year old daughter asked “Who is that crazy man?”) As he continued to give his own theory on Hillary Clinton’s actions around Benghazi, my 8th grader, who has done mock trials in Elementary and Middle School, asked if that is how a hearing is supposed to go – are you supposed to make up someone else’s story? Or, are you supposed to ask questions, listen, and gather information, facts?

But it was Hillary’s demeanor – calm, collected, in control – that made the most dramatic impression on my daughters and me.

She listened. She reviewed her notes. She didn’t attack.

She smiled as a panel in front of her berated her with nonsensical questions. She acted like a seasoned world leader.

Here are a few life lessons that my girls and I talked about after the debate: Continue reading

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