Rules: Why do children in foster care need them?

In Fostering Tips on

It is often said that children in care just need someone to care for them, but at Ascent Fostering Agency, we believe young people also need firm and clear boundaries.

Children and young people who come into the care system often come from families whose lifestyles are chaotic, and boundaries are either excessive or non-existent. For instance, children who have never had reasonable boundaries can grow up not knowing when ‘enough is enough’ or are unable to regulate their emotions. For other young people, they simply feel unsafe because the boundaries in their household were inappropriate or excessive. As such, a key part of the foster carer’s role is to create a home environment where children and young people can feel safe but also re-learn what reasonable boundaries are, in a clear and open way.

This is can often be challenging for foster carers because children often want to recreate the type of home environment they came from. So foster carers have to first build trust and have the patience and kindness to allow children time to adjust to the rules in their family. It’s not only about rules, but creating the opportunity for young people. to experience families that can disagree and resolve issues in a positive way. Helping children to re-learn the norms of family life takes time, but has a major impact on the ability of young people to develop into fully functioning adults.

We all learn and understand the idea of ‘consequences’ by being taught about ‘right and wrong’. This is a key component of parenting and it’s what foster carers do to support young people in adjusting positively to boundaries.

Children and young people who have not had the best start in life, can feel confused and unsure about going into a family with structure and boundaries. It might initially feel strange for them, but those rules and boundaries when sensitively and clearly communicated, will be appreciated in the long term.

So having rules is so not so bad, we all in fact need them.