Disciplining Foster Children


My husband and I have four foster children in our home. The youngest two boys (ages 5 & 6) struggle with self regulation (worse when tired, like the rest of us), and with their history (severe neglect, physical abuse and the 6yo probably parented his 5 younger siblings, being forced to watch them abused with no ability to help them).

The parenting style that makes sense to me is very black and white (rewards for positive behavior and consequences for negative behavior). I came from a home where my parents had very clear expectations and consistent discipline and have experience as a teacher and coach, so I tend to lean towards that style (minus the corporal correction aspect).

I do feel that some major healing needs to happen on the insides of our kids and get the sense that certain connections are not right in their little minds. For example, there are times when what they do doesn't make sense to me... like when one of our little guys get sent to his room till he can stop crying (that's a rule in our home... crying zone is your room where you don't bother everyone else) and instead of quieting himself, will jump around, cry and yell, "I will stop, I will stop" for 20 minutes while crying on his bed... sometimes cry himself to sleep (instead of playing, like he usually likes to do). This makes me feel like there are some deep therapeutic needs (that honestly overwhelm me, but I'm eager to understand to meet their needs).

On the other hand, I don't want to be too easy on them (spoiling them and hindering their ability to learn how to control themselves, become strong and make good decisions).

I've read (and love) the "Well Behaved Child" and have felt encouraged that with the right strategies implemented and mindset (on my part), can help shape these boys into who God designed them to be, but recently I've been researching "Trust-Based Relationship Intervention" type methods, designed especially to "heal" the brain damage caused from trauma, and am wondering if anyone is familiar with these methods and could give me advice. I feel like I need help discerning a proper balance (therapy and discipline) and help discerning what is really going on.

One of our guys had a huge fit the other day and our usual methods weren't working. When he has become super defiant in the past, I typically have a jar of pop cycle sticks with consequences (a lottery of sorts... some worse than others) on them that I pull every couple minutes that will make his life worse and worse for the week to come, hopefully helping him feel "uncomfortable" in his rebellion and encourage him to make better choices. He didn't care about those this time (it had been awhile since he'd had a fit like this and the sticks were a bit out of date). It wasn't till I threatened (I know threats are bad... :( to throw his Pokemon cards (which I don't really like, anyway) in the trash if he didn't stop tearing his room apart... (which as I write sounds very cruel, lol) that he totally stopped. That makes me believe he might have the ability in him to obey (instead of "not having any control" like some of the experts in would say).

I feel torn on what approach to take... (and need help with knowing how to discern levels of trauma that I should be sensitive to and concerned with)

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