It’s important to consider the child’s emotional age….

I have been working with a foster carer who is looking after two girls aged 8 and 9, who like many fostered children have a history of neglect, emotional abuse and little experience of their physical and emotional needs being met. The foster carer has recently been struggling to manage their behaviour which is very toddler like and more developmentally appropriate for children of a much younger age. I explored with her the importance of children revisiting earlier developmental stages and suggested she offers regular play opportunities for them to do this such as water play, finger painting etc. I suggested she tries to remember that emotionally they are aged two and three and not eight and nine. She has reported that they all thoroughly enjoy these sessions and she says the bit that has helped her the most is thinking of them as being emotionally much younger than they are as this has helped her to be less frustrated and to accept how they are more easily.

My next task is to try and encourage school staff to understand this and to consider it when responding to children’s behaviour.

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