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  • Writer's pictureErika Bugbee, M.A.

Helping Foster Kids (and all kids) Handle Unknowns and Stress with Less Self-Destruction

Today’s interview was originally created for parents and practitioners supporting foster kids that are spiraling down or getting into trouble, like skipping school, getting into drugs, or acting out.

I’m sharing here because all kids and teens work the same way.

Like foster kids, on some level all kids and teens face uncertainty, insecurity, anger, and fear.

And just like foster kids, they react to those feelings by acting out, making impulsive decisions, getting aggressive, mean, and defiant. They shoplift. They shut down and stop caring.

They use drugs or alcohol as a way of ‘checking out.’

All those reactions and acting out are their best attempts to find stability and a sense of control.

In fact adults do the same thing.

Those reactions actually demonstrate our natural drive toward balance, homeostasis, and stability that we’re born with.

And while those behaviors may create more chaos and destruction, until we learn better ways, we use what we have.

What ultimately matters is that we all have something helping us along. If foster kids have it, all kids have it.

Getting some insight into how we all get lost, and how we all find our way back gives us faith, understanding, and a sense of connection that allows us to be more present and graceful with struggling teens.

It also gives us access to more creativity and guidance around how to be more proactive in supporting struggling kids and teens -- when to soften up, when to draw boundaries, and when to step in, and when to give them space.

The more parents and practitioners can understand and trust the natural resilience in the kids they support, the more they engage and help build that resilience over time. In turn they’ll feel less and less burden and pressure to save or fix them, allowing the adults to regain their own stability.

This interview was hosted by my long-time friend and colleague, Brock Sellers, LICSW, and his organization, the Children's Aid Society of Alabama. To learn more about Brock and his excellent work, click here.

Click below to watch the interview.

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