How to build resilience in children in Virginia foster care

HOW DO WE TEACH CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE THE SKILLS OF RESILIENCY?

What is Resiliency?

How do we teach children in Foster care the skills of resiliency?

I keep hearing this word, resiliency, resiliency... Well, what in the world is resiliency and how does it relate to foster care?? 

Here is the dictionary's definition: 

re·sil·ience   /rəˈzilyəns/ noun: resiliency 

1.The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.   (ex. "the often remarkable resilience of so many American institutions") 

2.the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity (For example." nylon is excellent in wearability and resilience") 

Now that we've established what the word means, we will look into how resilience applies to our foster children? 

But first, let me ask you another question. Would you agree that our foster children in care or entering into care have had to deal with difficult or challenging situations? I'd hope your answer is yes. If you've ever seen or heard a story of a foster youth that has "made it," I know that it makes you feel good, and you may have even thought to yourself, 'how in the world did he or she make it through all of that?' Well, that's resilience—the ability to bounce back from adversity.

Our foster youth have to endure so much, from particular disturbing and negatively impactful situations in their respective homes, to having to deal with their removal from that home and then being placed into a stranger's house and having to adjust accordingly. Oh, and let's not forget, this is all while they are still in the developmental stages of their lives (so they may not know how to properly grieve, manage or regulate their emotions, show emotion, or properly use their natural resources or healthy outlets).

As humans, we have a natural innate ability to adjust, pivot, and adapt (we are born with it). However, that doesn't mean that it doesn't affect us, take a toll, or cause us not to operate at 100%. We naturally build resilience over time. Our personal life experiences can also help build that resiliency up along the way. Our foster youth require it more now than ever. So how do we build up resilience and be able to apply it when tough situations arise properly?

Four Quick Steps to Building Resiliency:

  1. Build a Solid Foundation: Be like the tree. The tree has powerful roots, and no matter the winds, storms, rain, etc., it remains standing. It may lose a few branches or leaves here and there, but the foundation remains solid (and it can rebuild or grow again from that).
  2. Be Flexible-Have a plan B in place. Be willing to pivot if something happens to you or deters you from your plan.
  3. Be Self-Compassionate-Don't be in denial if you're dealing with an issue or if something seems hard to deal with. Embrace it, and be able to say to yourself or verbalize that "this is hard" or "I'm anxious about this." Now, after you've done so, also be willing and able to tell yourself that "this may be difficult, but I can get through this." Allow yourself to feel...then heal.
  4. Change your mindset and reframe whatever troubles you-In all honesty, no matter how well you plan or prepare for adversity, it will come. At times, it will hit you hard. When that time comes, you will have to decide how you'll receive it; what you're going to do about it to get a better outcome. In more simple terms: Be able to reframe that negative into a positive. If you have the mindset that the glass is half full no matter what, it'll never look or feel empty to you when tough times come to your doorstep. Have the mindset, which will create the ability, to leverage that negative situation into a positive one (even if it's just a lesson learned). 

Hopefully, these four quick steps to build resiliency can serve as beneficial and influential in your lives. Please don't hesitate to reach out to us because here at ESP; we love to help! Stay resilient! 

My name is Vincent Ellis White, and I am a Home Study Specialist at Extra Special Parents (ESP) , a licensed Child Placing Agency in Virginia . I mainly have two tasks in my ESP role: 1: training potential foster parents and guide them as they navigate the road to certification to become licensed foster parents. 2: I conduct home studies of prospective foster parents, critical to the road to certification. 

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