Modelling therapeutic foster child


May 2020

Welcome to Ikon Fostering’s first blog post! I hope that you and your families are keeping safe and well during the Pandemic. There has been A LOT of learning that has come because of the Pandemic; from a personal perspective to a global perspective (and arguably from a humanity perspective!). Through the breakdowns, meltdowns and the ‘I can’t do this any more-downs’, our children too have a lot of learning happening – although it might not be noticeable at the time.

The statue of the son was made from pieces removed from the statue of the father, representing what parents do to build the lives of their children

I want to talk about Modelling. Not the kind you might be thinking of with a camera flash, but rather the kind of learned behaviour our children pick up from us. Hardships are a part of life. We grow from them. Good or bad. Hardships also allow our children opportunity to model how to cope with tough times. It is widely acknowledged that a child will look to their significant caregiver during a time of distress to emotionally regulate themselves. Therefore, it is important to remain the unassailable safe base when your child is having a tantrum so that they can regulate themselves by noticing you are remaining calm. Of course, this is not always possible and at times we can all ‘lose it’; but the most important thing here is that we don’t harm the children and follow up with the child after the event about what happened to give them a narrative to ascertain their safety.

So, what kind of mindset are you modelling for the kids who are watching you? Are you modelling a growth mindset for them? Here are 10 ways you can help children build a growth mindset during a hard time:

  1. Model being positive and admit your mistakes
  2. Give them strategies for handling frustration
  3. Avoid comparisons
  4. Praise effort and not ability
  5. Talk about famous people who preserved through failure
  6. Challenge them when things get easy by setting ‘growth goals’
  7. Use the word ‘yet’ in your sentences
  8. Help them catch and change negative thoughts
  9. Show that failures are learning opportunities
  10. Teach the science: the brain grows and changes like a muscle

Kirith Klair, Psychotherapist, Ikon Fostering