As foster parents, we understand that our kids come to the door with a full range of fears and anxieties. As we welcome children into our home, we have a range of curiosity about what problems our children will bring with them. Most children have worries and fear, but foster children have even more. Knowing the different types of fears will help us in helping them cope with a stressful period in their life.
Many children can sense the fears and worry their parents are experiencing. For example, they may hear arguments about money and may start to worry about their family's financial situation. As a parent, I try to discuss serious issues with my friends and family when the children are asleep. Then, if I believe they have overheard me, I talk to them and make sure they understand that everything is fine and have no need to worry.
Parents breaking up is a common fear with children, and when children move from their homes, the fear of the unknown is overwhelming. Kids in care may have seen their parents arrested, in a drug-related or medical crisis, or worse. Children have told me they worry and fear one of their parents may die. It is pretty challenging to explain to them that this is as unlikely to happen as it could. However, it is not the best policy to laugh it off or dismiss their fear. Walking them through their fears and explaining how to appreciate them daily will hopefully help them find peace. Sharing with them my faith or helping them seek comfort through their belief is usually helpful.
School can be an area of stress for children. Questions that usually race through their mind are will they understand the work in their new grade? Will they do well on tests? Will they have a class with their friends? Who will sit with you at lunch? I have told my kids not to do the best they can because I will always love them.
Friendships are stressful for kids. Friends come and go; for kids, it feels like the end of the world. When friends stop speaking or move away in the early teenage years, it can be stressful for anyone, especially a child. I point out to my children the number of times they have fought and that they will make up in a day or two and not worry. I assure them that if it is not better in a couple of days, let me know, and we will make a game plan.
As children get older, dating comes into play, and as adults, we already know the challenges it can bring. The bottom line is to be there for your children and help them navigate their fears and anxieties. Tell them that you will listen to their concerns and love them.