Behaviour Tips: Attachment (children) & Substance use (youth)

Updated: Aug 30, 2019

July 9, 2019


Hello Foster Caregivers!

Here are this weeks behavioural strategies that may help you grow your parenting skills and relationships with the children and youth in your care. These behavioural management strategies are intended for: infants/toddler (2mo-3yrs), preschool or school age (3-12), and youth (12-18). Each child/youth is an individual, and not all strategies will work with every one. These strategies are not meant to replace any advice given to you from a medical or behavioural professional who knows your child.


Positive Parenting Strategy #1 re: Toddlers and Attachment

At this stage children are learning a sense of who they are, where they belong, and how families are connected. When this is disrupted, children will display challenging behaviours. Here are some strategies to help soften the impact of these traumas.


-Be consistent with praising appropriate behaviours

-React as you want the child to learn to react in the future

-Create and be consistent with routines to promote a sense of predictability and stability

-Play, play, play! This is a child’s work and they need play to learn many social/emotional skills

-Light up when the child enters the room (this goes for all ages). This instills knowing that they make the world a better place.

-Discipline by respectfully teaching the child what to-do, not what not to do. E.g.: “Instead of ______ you could (insert appropriate behaviour).

-Respond consistently and kindly when a child is distressed; this will ensure your toddler will come to you again when they need comfort

-Cuddles, snuggles, love!

-Remember the toddler is doing their best. We are not born knowing social skills, and sometimes when we are behaving unlovable, that is when we need love the most.


Positive Parenting Strategy #2 re: Preschooler/Adolescent Attachment

-As written above, be consistent with praising appropriate behaviours.

-Model desired behaviours, be consistent with routines, discipline, and teaching appropriate behaviors

-Listen and respond with compassion when your child has a problem. It may seem unimportant to you, but it is very important in their lives at that moment.

-Foster their independence; let them make mistakes and learn from them (natural consequences), and refrain from judgmental comments.

-Listen to the little things and accept them for their ideas and individuality. When you listen to the little things, they will come to you with the big things later on.

-Ask them what they think they should do in a situation and praise good(ish) ideas. This instills the idea that they can count on you to listen without judgement, have faith in their own ability to problem solve and make decisions, and they will feel a sense of relief. This promotes self-esteem and relationships.


Positive Parenting Strategy #3 re: Youth and Substance Abuse

-Arm the youth with information about the risks associated with drug use to themselves, their friends, and families (try with all your might not to give a long lecture).

-Try not to nag, load on the guilt, or use scare tactics or threats. This does not foster responsible decision making nor encourage further discussions.

-Try to encourage friendships with people who do not engage in drugs and alcohol, involve them in sports or other quality activities. They may discover a new interest or skill that they can build upon that prepares them for a healthier and productive future.

-Begin to use language that encourages them to think about their future. Do some research to show them “the path” to various careers/employment/educational opportunities. They may begin to question themselves, and believe that they can do these things.

-Talk to a mental health professional

-Encourage them to seek counselling/books/videos/online, to figure out how to cope with past traumas and work through them in productive, healthy ways.

-Vent to someone other than your child.

-Prepare how you will approach your child with your concerns, this will show how much you care.

-Ask them to help you understand why they are using. Remember you cannot always control you child. Learn how to cope with your own mental health and concerns.

-Do not cover-up for the consequences of your child’s drug/alcohol use. E.g.: calling in sick for them at school. They must face the consequences of their actions.

-Try to have open, honest talks about their responsibility in making choices about their lives. Remember, all you can do is your best. This is one of the most difficult issues a parent has to cope with.

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