Topic this Week: Quality Care Checklist (Part 1)
As parents we are all doing our best, and providing daily quality care for our children is an important goal. Sometimes a reminder of what quality care is, can help us focus on our own behaviours and environments, to maximize our potential as well as our children’s potential. Remember, it is always ok, if not necessary to ask for support when needed.
A child must feel and be:
1. Safe and Secure
Children and Youth need a daily rhythm and routine to learn to trust their caregiver. Being able to predict and depend on those that are entrusted with their care, builds the foundation for emotional security. Consistency gives traumatized children and youth comfort and motivates them to make better choices, because they are able to understand the outcome of their actions. Responding to children’s needs, giving them positive attention, accepting them as they are, and building relationships not only help their social and emotional development, but promotes academic achievement. Daily habits that promote a child/youths’ sense of safety and security include visual routines such as making their bed a certain way, where they know that you took the time to do this just for their comfort. Also, leaving sticky-notes of encouragement or affection, cutting their toast into heart shapes, putting a blanket over them etc.... Other routines that help create a sense of safety and security are having regular meal times, bed times, and waking times (not so easy with teens!), and regular extracurricular activities and involvement in the child/youths’ cultural practices.
Quality care includes treating people kindly which lets them know that they are of value, and that you are happy that they are there. Carers need to be aware of the impact that subtle verbal and non-verbal language has on a child/youths’ self-esteem. “Respectful people value other people’s strengths and abilities, acknowledging their challenges and struggles while at the same time recognizing their rights and developmental limitations” (Fulcher & Thom, 2008). Respect must be modeled by the caregiver in the home and outside of the home by helping, and being polite to people, animals, and the environment. Every good action observed, teaches children how to be in this world. Gestures of respect include admitting when you are wrong, explaining why you have made some decisions, offering choices, and accepting (some of) those choices. This also gives young people a sense of control in their lives which is something they are desperately seeking. Communicating respectfully, in a tone that shows your control over your own emotions, teaches children that they are able to do the same in similar situations. This will further their employability when this stage of life comes. Use discipline techniques that have appropriate consequences relating to the infraction; they will learn that you are reacting fairly and not seeking to humiliate or exert power over them. Learn about the child/youths’ culture and history to show your respect for them. This is a deeply meaningful gesture to prove you value them as unique individuals. Model respect (not blame) towards the child’s birth parents. This allows the children/youth in your care to hold their head high and maintain their dignity as best they can in difficult circumstances. Lastly, respect yourself. Self-care, especially for young girls, exemplifies power and nurtures resilience when they eventually navigate through their own lives.
Nurturing is responsive care-giving that promotes learning and emotional and social growth. To nurture is to look after a child’s individual needs. Understanding a child/youths’ learning style will allow you and their teachers to tailor their learning environment to encourage learning and retention. See an online learning style quiz here https://homeschoolon.com/the-learning-style-quiz/. Finding your child’s unique strengths and nurturing those skills will make them feel good about their accomplishments. Provide children/youth with various opportunities to figure out what their strengths are! Some of the kiddos have not been exposed to the plethora of experiences available to them, this is a priceless gift. They may be gifted socially, emotionally, academically, creatively, outdoorsy 😊, technologically, etc…. Nurturing an individuals social development, especially how to manage emotionally tumultuous situations and the feelings that go along with that, influences the way they will interact with others; be that example, and teach them at their level what they could say and do. It is also important that children are taught how to give and receive affection appropriately. Children/youth can easily misread emotional/physical responses in others and it is critical that appropriate give and take of affection is learned. Reach out for help! Nurturing children/youths’ different developmental domains takes a team approach! This could include teachers, coaches, skilled friends and neighbours, you, peers, and therapists.
Reference: Quality Care in a Family Setting: A Practical Guide for Foster Carers (Fulcher & Thom, 2008).