How to Model Emotional Intelligence for Children

How to Model Emotional Intelligence for Children

Every parent or caregiver wants their child to grow up healthy, happy, and successful. And in trying to bring that all-important goal to fruition, we tend to focus heavily on education, equipping kids with the knowledge and skills they need to build a secure, stable, and prosperous life. But raising healthy and successful children is about far more than cultivating their intelligence quotient (IQ). It’s also about nurturing their emotional intelligence quotient (EQ). And that comes both from what you teach your children and what you model for them.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence

Children aren’t born with a natural ability to understand their emotions, let alone the knowledge to process and express them. In fact, emotional intelligence refers to a set of specialized skills that many of us enter adulthood never having completely mastered. Emotional intelligence involves self-awareness, emotional regulation, self-expression, active listening, empathy, and problem-solving. 

Each of these skills, fundamentally, links to the individual’s ability to nurture both their own well-being and the well-being of others. Helping children to cultivate these skills early facilitates habits that serve young ones well across all domains of life, from their relationships with peers to their experiences at school and the way they function at home.

But it’s not only in childhood that emotional intelligence matters. It’s also a critical component of adult success. In higher education and the workplace alike, emotional intelligence helps people balance the myriad challenges of “adulting,” from negotiating the obligations of home, work, and family to navigating the inevitable hopes, fears, and frustrations of adult life. Adults with high EQ, in other words, are more likely to succeed across multiple aspects of life, from pursuing advanced educations to building rewarding careers to sustaining happy families.

Teaching and Modelling Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is like a muscle: The more you use it, the stronger it gets. But it takes time. And one of the first and most important things to remember as you seek to support your child’s EQ development is that what you do matters even more than what you say. You are your child’s most influential role model, and they’re always paying attention, whether they show it or not.

A good place to begin cultivating children’s emotional intelligence is in high-pressure situations, where EQ skills can be used to facilitate coping. For example, as the holiday season approaches, adults and children alike are faced with the particular challenges of the season, such as disrupted daily routines, chaotic schedules, and the simple overstimulation of so many people, so much noise, and such unrelenting activity.

Taking the time before the holidays arrive to develop a self-care plan with your child is an ideal way to cultivate their EQ. For example, you can work with them to develop a strategy for managing the season’s festivities without becoming overwhelmed. Talk with your child to help them plan for rest breaks. Help them identify times and situations in which they are more likely to feel anxious or upset, and come up with a solution for dealing with those moments. You and your child, for example, might select a quiet room where they can go when they need a break, a calming piece of music that they might listen to, or even a discrete signal that the two of you can privately share to let you know when your child needs some support. In this way, you are helping your child learn to identify, label, and manage their emotions, which is a cornerstone of EQ. 

Another important aspect of this is helping your child learn to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is particularly important in combatting anxiety and depression because it requires the person to ground themselves in the present, to focus on both the external environment and internal responses, from feelings to physiology. Through mindfulness, for example, children can learn to notice their breathing and heart rate and to use these to alert themselves to the fact that they may be getting anxious. Once they know how to spot the signs, you can give them tools to help them self-regulate, such as deep breathing exercises or playing with a worry ball or other stress-relieving toy.

Of course, EQ isn’t only concerned with self-care. A high EQ also prioritizes empathy and relationships. And this is, perhaps, where modeling plays an especially important role. Your child doesn’t just need you to teach them how to take care of themselves. They also need to see you taking care of yourself and others. This includes, for example, having open, honest, and age-appropriate conversations with your child about your feelings, including “negative” ones, such as fear or sadness. They should also be able to see you practicing self-care, such as using the “quiet room” yourself when you need it.

In addition, having frequent conversations with your child about other people’s emotions and experiences will help them to develop empathy. For example, allowing your child to see you engage in active listening and small acts of kindness toward others can be a powerful tool for modeling EQ. Likewise, even very young children can begin to learn to practice compassion and to build relationships through sharing and helping activities, from helping Mom feed the dog its breakfast to brushing baby sister’s hair at night.

The Takeaway

Emotional intelligence isn’t just some soft skill that’s nice to have but relatively inessential to life today. Rather, emotional intelligence is fundamental to the well-being of children and adults alike. And that means that teaching and modeling emotional intelligence is a vital responsibility of every parent and caregiver.

Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn

How Foster Parents Can Help Ease Mental Health Struggles

How Foster Parents Can Help Ease Mental Health Struggles

There is nothing better you can do with your life than to open your home and your heart to a child in need. But doing so is both a profound gift and a profound responsibility. No matter what your child’s experience, whether it is the death of a biological parent or a court-mandated removal from the birth home, your foster child will inevitably have experienced trauma. 

And that means that there will be an adjustment period not only for the child but for the entire family, particularly if your foster child is one of the nearly 80% of children in the foster care system to experience significant mental health struggles.

A History of Trauma

In the majority of cases, children often enter the foster care system because they have experienced significant and prolonged abuse or neglect. They may have experienced parental addiction and housing insecurity. And they likely lack the familial and social connections they need to provide them with a sense of stability, security, and safety in their lives.

And that kind of history is a lot for little shoulders to bear. Children reared in such volatile environments are likely to experience significant anxiety and, in some cases, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They may be restless, fearful, withdrawn, mistrustful, or hypervigilant.

On top of the burden of the past, children in foster care are likely coping with feelings of guilt and shame, especially as they begin to bond with their foster family and to enjoy the new and more stable life their foster home provides. They may blame themselves for “abandoning” or “betraying” their birth family by entering into this new life without them.

What to Expect and How to Cope

Separation Anxiety

The history of instability at home that foster children often carry can lead to significant separation anxiety, especially as their bond with their foster family grows. Your little one will need lots of patience and understanding to help them feel more secure. This is going to mean reassuring your child that you will be back for them and giving them a time frame for understanding when, exactly, you will return for them. 

Because young children don’t usually have a clear understanding of time, you can use daily benchmarks to help them know when to expect you (i.e. after snack or nap time or when Sesame Street comes on), You can also create quick little rituals that you and your child share before you leave and when you return to pick them up, such as a quick fist bump or a heart hand signal. 

It can also be helpful to give your child a transitional object to hold when they begin to feel anxious or to miss you, whether that be a stuffed animal, a book, or, for older children, a more discrete item such as a keychain.  The more predictability you can build into the routine, the more reassured your child will feel and the more readily the separation anxiety will dissipate.

Mood and Behavioral Disorders

In addition to a troubled personal history, your child may also experience a range of risk factors for the development of mood and behavioral disorders, from prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol to insufficient nutrition and pediatric care. Such personal and physiological factors can significantly increase children’s risk of major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and PTSD. In addition, these children may experience substantially more aggressive and disruptive behaviors.

If your child is experiencing a mood or behavioral disorder, the diagnosis can have a ripple effect across the entire family, leading to stress, conflict, and depression throughout the household. For this reason, it is important to pursue strategies not just to care for the child, but for the entire household.

For instance, creating safe spaces throughout the home for your child or other family members to retreat to when they are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated can go far to defuse potentially volatile situations. Best of all, when your child sees you, and their siblings, taking a time out when needed to decompress and self-regulate, they’ll learn to emulate such behaviors themselves, both at home and in the bigger, louder world outside.

Another highly beneficial strategy is to bring a pet into the home. There’s already a mountain of evidence supporting the mental health benefits of a companion animal. Petting an animal has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, decrease heart rate and blood pressure, and promote an overall sense of happiness and wellbeing. Plus, the love and care of a pet can be a wonderful way for the family to bond and for the child to build self-esteem and a sense of belonging and unconditional acceptance and love.

The Takeaway

There is perhaps no greater gift than to open your home to a foster child, but it is important to be prepared for the mental health challenges that may accompany this process. Learning to care not only for the mental wellbeing of the child but also of the entire family is the first step in building the beautiful future that your growing family deserves.

Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn

How to Help Your Foster Kids Pass Their Developmental Stages with Flying Colors

How to Help Your Foster Kids Pass Their Developmental Stages With Flying Colors

According to ego psychologist Erik Erikson, all people go through eight specific stages of development. These psychosocial development stages help to determine self-actualization later in life. 

As you might expect, healthily going through those stages is important for all children. For foster children, however, it becomes even more imperative. Foster kids have often gone through traumatic experiences or may not have experienced a real “home” until recently. 

How can you provide a support system for them in your home? How can you help them pass their developmental stages now, so they can be more stable and secure as they eventually transition into adulthood? 

Let’s take a look at Erikson’s stages and what you can do to help your foster kids through each one. 

Developing Stages Through Relationships

Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development are: 

  • Trust versus mistrust
  • Autonomy versus shame and doubt
  • Initiative versus guilt
  • Industry versus inferiority
  • Identity versus confusion
  • Intimacy versus isolation
  • Generativity versus stagnation
  • Integrity versus despair

If you take a look at that list, you’ll see that all of the “positive” sides have one thing in common – they can all be achieved by forming a healthy relationship with your foster kids. To encourage them, you have to build trust. From there, you can work with them through each additional stage. 

One way to earn that trust is to make sure they know they’re in a safe environment. They might have experienced trauma or even abuse in the past. When they know they’re safe and won’t be harmed, they’re more likely to open themselves up to learning and growing in different ways. Keeping them safe and comfortable every day is important, but it’s also crucial to have emergency preparedness plans in place for your whole family. If you live in an area that is prone to natural disasters like storms or flooding, incorporating your foster kids into your safety plan will further assure them that they are loved and cared for. 

Familiarizing yourself with Erikson’s stages of development can help you better determine where your foster kid currently is and where they might need help. Trust versus mistrust often begins at infancy, but it can “start over” when they are somewhere new. If you have a preschool-aged child, you can focus on initiative versus guilt. Adolescents often need guidance through identity versus role confusion, and young adults can struggle with intimacy versus isolation if they aren’t taking the right approach. 

So, what can you do to help your foster kids through these developmental stages? A combination of research and experience is the best way to work through them. There are plenty of resources available that can help you to guide your foster children at any age. But, don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember what it was like to be a child at that age and think about how you were feeling, where you were struggling, and what your own parents or guardians did to help you through. You have more existing knowledge than you might think. 

Helping With Roadblocks

There will be challenges along the way. That’s true with every child. But, for a foster kid who has already had a hard life, it’s normal to expect roadblocks. Learning how to navigate them and how to keep moving forward will be an important key in helping them pass their developmental stages. 

They might have emotional delays due to what they’ve been through. Trauma impacts everyone differently. In some cases, your foster kids might benefit from professional mental health help. 

Everyday “roadblocks” can also become a problem. You want your foster kids to feel comfortable in your home, but you shouldn’t let those creature comforts keep them from growing. For example, you might have a child who loves playing video games. But, too much gaming can cause problems like

  • Emotional suppression
  • Anxiety
  • Social disconnection
  • Relationship issues
  • Decreased motivation

Make sure the comfort and fun you’re giving your foster kids aren’t hindering them in other ways. It’s about striking a healthy balance and finding ways to make them feel safe, secure, and happy while encouraging them through each developmental stage. You have a unique opportunity as a foster parent to make a big impact, no matter how old your foster kids are. Take advantage of that as much as you can, and take pride in knowing you’re doing something beneficial for the future of those children. 

Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn

Princess for a Day 2021

13th Annual Princess for a Day

It is important for children and youth to know how special they are, and AFFEC has put together many events to do just that, one of which has been put on for 12 years. Upcoming on August 15th is the 13th annual Princess for a Day event!

This royal event will be hosted at the Valley River Inn in Eugene, Oregon, on Sunday August 15th, 2021. A Family for Every Child will be providing this event as an opportunity for children from foster care and the community to be treated royally and make special lasting memories. It will be held from 10am to 5pm, with delightful royal activities including meet and greets with princesses, a red carpet photoshoot and a royal tea party. Princesses will have the opportunity to get their hair and makeup done, and get dressed up in a gown with a tiara and accessories to enjoy and take home.

How to Be a Royal Volunteer

This event involves a lot of volunteers to orchestrate a wonderful experience for all of the princesses attending. There are many ways you can volunteer to help make this a great day!

Volunteers age 18 and older can volunteer at the event itself in many different areas:

  • Time Checker/Room Monitors
  • Tea Party Room
  • Photography/Social Media
  • Decorating, Set-up and Take-down
  • Face Paint, Hairstyling, nail painting
  • And more!

You can also help without even attending the event! Visit this link for more details on ways to help. You can also donate dresses and accessories (such as shoes, jewelry, and boas) or help purchase needed items on the online AMAZON wishlist.

If you’d like to personally sponsor a princess, you can learn how to do so on our website and check out this sponsorship packet

How to Register a Princess

Do you know some princesses who would like to attend this special event? You can register them through the online form. You can also visit the office to buy a ticket:

1675 West 11th Avenue

Eugene, Oregon 97402

General admission is $50, and foster children receive free admission. Princesses must be registered in advance for this event, so don’t delay! Last year hosted 350 princesses, and we are hoping to celebrate with just as many children this year! 


For more information about this event and how you can volunteer, visit the website.  You can also contact AFFEC by calling 541-343-3856 or e-mailing  

How to Identify Signs of Trauma in Children


Image Source: Unsplash

How to Identify Signs of Trauma in Children

It’s estimated that nearly 35 million children in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event in their lives. Children involved in adoption or the foster care system may make up a large percentage of that, as many of them come from traumatic circumstances. 

Some of those children might be struggling with symptoms of trauma without even realizing it. That’s why it’s so important to understand what those signs and symptoms are. The more you can recognize some of the physical and emotional “tells” of trauma, the sooner you can ensure a child receives the help and support they need. 

If you’re a parent or caretaker, you can be better equipped to take care of children, especially foster children, if you pay attention to the possible signs of trauma. With that in mind, let’s cover a few of the common signs and how you can help to ease trauma responses.

The Most Powerful Signs

Children respond to trauma differently. Some may even repress it and have to deal with it later in life, as an adult. But, there are often signs you can look for that can hint at traumatic experiences. Some of the most powerful and important signs of trauma in children are

  • Physical effects like rashes, insomnia, or severe pain
  • Reactions to triggers, including flashbacks and anxiety attacks
  • Disassociation
  • Attachment disorders or difficulty building new relationships

Stomach and digestive issues are also often associated with trauma. Conditions like GERD and other acid reflux problems can be exacerbated by stress and anxiety. If a child in your care seems to have a sensitive stomach or is constantly sick, it could be the result of an underlying, unresolved sense of fear from trauma. 

Again, some children might internalize the effects of their trauma. That makes it difficult to notice physical signs that they could be in distress. So, keep your eyes open for other issues that might arise. For example, trauma often impacts a child’s self-image. If your child starts to struggle with their esteem or develops body image issues, it’s important to get to the root cause as quickly as possible. 

What Should You Do?

It’s important not to jump to conclusions when it comes to identifying trauma signs. But, it’s just as crucial to be diligent if you’re concerned. One of the best things you can do is reach out to experts. Counselors, caseworkers, and even pediatric forensic nurses can all be wonderful resources in confirming trauma symptoms and giving you support as you ease the effects of trauma for that child. 

When it comes to easing trauma responses, the best place to start is creating a safe, nurturing environment for the child. If you’re a foster parent or new adoptive parent, keep in mind that your child might be coming from a situation that wasn’t safe or comfortable. They might feel as though they need to keep their guard up, so they might not open up right away.

Keep your home as quiet and as soothing as possible, and be consistent in the way you talk to your child. Earning their trust is a great way to eventually initiate conversations about what they might be dealing with. But, don’t force them to talk before they’re ready, or you might end up driving a bigger wedge. 

If you’re worried that your child might be struggling with the effects of trauma and the symptoms are severe, use your resources. Don’t wait to get your child the help they truly deserve. It might not be easy for anyone, at first. But, providing a comfortable environment and utilizing professional help are great ways to help your child ease their trauma experiences and start living a happier, less anxious life. 

Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn

Stephanie and Chris’s Adoption Success Story

Stephanie and Chris's Adoption Success Story

Hi, we are Stephanie and Chris, from just right outside of Houston, Texas. My husband and I have been married for eighteen years and have adopted three amazing children and are awaiting the finalization of our last two. Chris is an accountant by day and a grilling expert by night, and I have been blessed with a flexible job that allows me to work from home and walk the kids to the bus stop and pick them up every afternoon after school.

Our two eldest boys were adopted as infants through private adoption, and we have been blessed to watch them grow into exceptional young men. Our first was a private international adoption when he was an infant, he is now sixteen and a joy to be around. Our first foster placement was about four years ago and lasted ten amazing months. While we were happy the child was able to be reunited with their family, our family came to realize the hardships of fostering. This experience taught our family about trauma and opened our eyes to the number of kids in the foster care system. Even at infantile ages, the hardships of being in the foster care system takes a toll. Although fostering had its difficulties, we are grateful we got to be foster parents to amazing children and were able to be in their lives, although it was only for a brief time.


Our 13-year-old daughter was placed with us when she was 10 and had experienced foster care for over 9 years . She has grown into such a wonderful young woman and has come a long way from when she first arrived. She enjoys spending time running with her dad and is constantly exploring new interests.

After going through our highs and lows of fostering, we enrolled in the Matching Assistance Program with A Family For Every Child. We eagerly filled out our family profile, submitted our home study, and by that night our adoption worker called with a match - a boy and girl. While we are still waiting for the adoption to be finalized, we have been fortunate to spend quality time with our newest additions, since they moved in with us in April of last year.

During this pandemic, our household has rarely had a quiet moment. We have had loads of outdoor time exploring different parks and hiking trails, riding scooters and bikes, and spending socially distanced time with family. We have also taken up YouTube dance and art parties for nights in. Chris and I thank God for these blessings, and for giving us the courage to work through the hardships. We are so grateful for the amazing family we have found through this journey!

You can read more success stories from AFFEC's Matching Assistance Program on our website here.

Interested in adoption? Visit this link to learn more!

How to Make Your House More Welcoming To Foster Kids

Image Source: Unsplash

How to Make Your House More Welcoming to Foster Kids

There are currently over 400,000 kids in foster care, all looking for loving homes. As a foster parent, you’re doing something wonderful to provide a stable and caring environment for those kids as they wait to get adopted. So, if you’re looking into the foster care process, take pride in knowing you’re providing something truly special to children who need it most. 

Unfortunately, many kids in the foster care system have come from unstable environments. Some of them may have experienced traumatic events and have issues with separation anxiety, anger, or depression. Others have been in the system for years without finding a forever family. 

Therefore, it’s incredibly important to go above and beyond for your foster kids when you bring them into your home. Little changes can make a big difference.

So, how can you make your house more welcoming to foster kids as you take on this new chapter?

Give Them Their Own Space

You will always want your foster children to feel like they’re a part of the family. That means including them in everything you do together. But, it’s also important that they have their own comfortable space – a place of their own. They might not be used to it, but it can provide an incredible sense of security. 

Set up a bedroom for your foster child that gives them enough privacy while still allowing you to check in on them. A comfortable bedroom that feels safe and secure can give your foster child a sense of peace. It can even allow them to sleep better at night if they typically struggle with the effects of trauma and have a hard time feeling comfortable. Poor sleep and depression can be cyclical, with one fueling the other. If your foster child is struggling within that cycle, better sleep habits can help. That starts with an environment that fosters peace, comfort, and safety. 

If you’re having a hard time putting together bedroom ideas, don’t be afraid to look online for inspiration. Keep the following tips in mind: 

  • Allow for flexibility
  • Combine function and fashion
  • Don’t get too specific with a topic
  • Ask your foster child about their favorite artists, movies, etc., and get posters framed

The design of the room you put together is less important than the room itself. As long as it’s comfortable and feels like a positive environment, the bedroom itself can help your foster child start to learn how the power of positivity can change their life. 

Share Your Personality

It’s important for your foster child or teen to feel connected to you. That doesn’t always happen right away. Some foster kids won’t even speak to their foster parents for weeks. When you let your personality shine, you’re automatically creating a more welcoming environment that doesn’t feel so stiff. 

One way that you can overcome this common feeling of distance is by sharing something personal about yourself. Are you a closet Star Wars collector? Show them your stash. Do you know how to play the guitar? Bust out a song for them. Show off your personality through interior design with a mismatched living room made of different colors and patterns. 

When you’re willing to open up and be vulnerable, they’re more likely to do the same. They might start to tell you more about their favorite things, their interests and hobbies, and even what they like to eat. Once you’ve broken the ice with them, you can incorporate their likes and wants with your everyday activities, like cooking together or getting them involved in family game night. 


Bringing a foster child into your home is an exciting experience, and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By making a few changes around the house, you can create a wonderful safe haven for a foster child of any age. 

Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn

National Foster Care Month

National Foster Care Month

Happy National Foster Care Month! 

This May is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate, honor and support everyone involved in helping find safe homes and forever families for foster youth around the world!

Sometimes this means connecting foster kids with family members, and sometimes it means finding a new family for them. Children enter foster care for a variety of reasons, many of which are related to parents being unable to provide or take care of them due to challenges such as drug abuse, incarceration, death or illness.

Thankfully, these kids still have a bright future ahead of them! A Family for Every Child is just one of many organizations and agencies that are working to find loving and supportive families for these children. National Foster Care Month is the perfect time to spread awareness and think about how to volunteer yourself! Be sure to take the time this month to thank foster parents and families, volunteers, mentors, caseworkers, social workers and others who are spending their time, energy and resources to find homes for the youth and children in the foster care system.

“A Family for Every Child is dedicated to finding loving, permanent families for every waiting foster child.”

- A Family For Every Child’s mission statement

You can take an active role in supporting foster youth! You may want to consider volunteering at AFFEC or some of these other options:

Social media is an excellent way to spread awareness of the foster care system and encourage those who are in it. Send your thanks and appreciation to foster parents or adoptive parents you know, encourage social workers, and more! Use the hashtag #fostercaremonth and spread awareness and encouragement about this month!

Check out what others are saying about National Foster Care Month:


National Foster Care Month on Child Welfare Information Gateway:

This year's National Foster Care Month campaign recognizes these principles of engagement and connection as essential to expediting reunification and permanency and promoting long-term stabilization for youth transitioning to adulthood.”

-Taffy Compaign, National Foster Care Specialist | Children’s Bureau, May 1, 2021, “Prioritizing Engagement, Connections for Youth and Families to Improve Long-Term Outcomes


A Proclamation on National Foster Care Month, 2021:

During this National Foster Care Month, we share our gratitude for those who support youth and families by being a resource to children in need and supporting birth parents so that they may safely reunite with their families whenever possible. We also recognize that it takes collaboration and community effort — from local organizations to Federal agencies — to support children, birth parents, and resource and kin families during challenging times.”

-Joseph R. Biden Jr., April 30, 2021, Presidential Actions, “A Proclamation on National Foster Care Month, 2021”


National Foster Care Month on FosterClub:

“Each May, we have an opportunity to raise public awareness for our cause — and you are invited to join in and make a difference! Below, you'll see the focus areas we are concentrating on, an assortment of social media memes you can share, and opportunities to share your story, fundraise, and take action.”

How Foster Parents Can Help Ease Trauma Responses

Image Source: Pixabay (

How Foster Parents Can Help Ease Trauma Responses

When you decide to open your home to a foster child, you are choosing to open your heart to a child who needs it most. The simple fact is that when children are taken into the foster care system, it is always already a traumatic event

Being separated from your parents, perhaps even from your siblings, and moving into a new home will almost inevitably trigger feelings of fear and loss. Children may suffer from guilt and shame in leaving their loved ones behind. They may even blame themselves for being removed from the home.

However, the decision to place a child into foster care is never one to be taken lightly, and it typically follows a painful history of abuse and neglect. Being a foster parent, then, means more than simply loving a child. It also means learning to recognize the signs of trauma and understanding how to help your foster child begin to heal.

Understanding the Effects of Trauma

One of the most important lessons to learn about trauma is that it doesn’t just end with the traumatic event. Its effects can reverberate for a lifetime, impacting the child’s physical and mental health for years to come. 

Sometimes the effects of trauma are not always obvious. Trauma responses in children are often mistaken for other conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

This is why, before taking a foster child into your home, it is incumbent upon you to become informed about childhood trauma and its diverse and sometimes unpredictable manifestations. Armed with such knowledge, you can create a home and family environment that can help to mitigate those impacts.

A Nurturing Environment

Children who have experienced trauma need love and security above all. For many of these children, healing begins with the experience of having a safe space to retreat to when life and memories become overwhelming. 

This is especially important for children who may have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or who may have other sensory processing disorders. A key strategy for helping calm children dealing with the emotional repercussions of trauma, particularly for children with ASD who may have challenges articulating or coping with their feelings, is to create a sensory-friendly room

Use soothing colors, such as soft blues and greens, as well as comforting textures, such as velvet, plush rugs and blankets, and soft leather upholstery. This can provide your little one with a safe haven to retreat to when they are feeling emotionally overwhelmed or sensorily overstimulated. 

The Impact on Self-Image

In addition to the risk of depression and anxiety associated with childhood trauma, a growing body of evidence suggests that those who have experienced trauma are also vulnerable to body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and the eating disorders often connected with it. 

Children who have suffered neglect and abuse, these studies show, often internalize the abuse, tending to blame themselves rather than the abuser who is likely a parent or another loved one. Unfortunately, however, this tendency can all too easily mutate into self-hatred and a poor self-image, including a negative body image. 

For this reason, you will need to be on guard for signs of body dysmorphia and eating disorders. For instance, if the child fixates on their appearance, especially on a perceived physical flaw, or if they exhibit unhealthy eating behaviors such as emotionally overeating, eating too little, or excusing themselves to the restroom shortly after meals, then there may be a problem that requires care from a trauma-informed counselor.

Even if your foster child is not showing such troubling signs, it’s important to be aware of these vulnerabilities and to work to create an environment that supports a positive body image. The beauty industry, for example, is now increasingly endorsing a healthier and more diverse image of beauty. This is something that your child should see you actively embrace, not only in the way you speak of and treat your own body but also in the images you uphold as beautiful.

The Takeaway

There is nothing more important or more rewarding than opening your heart and home to a child in need. But caring for a foster child means understanding the effects that trauma has likely had on your little one. With the proper tools, information, and support, however, you can help your child heal from the wounds of their past and move forward into the happy and healthy future they deserve.

Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn

Upcoming April Events

AFFEC’s 2nd annual Art Auction

April 19 - May 10, 2021


Spring is such a wonderful season, and this year it is the theme of AFFEC’s upcoming 2nd annual Art Auction. All of the artwork has been created by artists of all ages, from kids to adults! You can have a chance to participate in the auction when it opens the last week of April. Lasting for three weeks, this inspirational and artistic event raises money for A Family For Every Child’s many programs in order to support the amazing work that is being done for foster youth!

Last year raised over $1,200. Would you be willing to help raise money for AFFEC and help us exceed our goal of $3,000?

Learn more about our second annual Art Auction by visiting our website. For more information and to get answers to your questions, feel free to contact Alex Graham at: or 541-343-2856.


Eugene Marathon

April 23 – May 2, 2021


The Eugene Marathon is coming up soon! Although the race won’t be in-person this year, its virtual experience means that participants can run anywhere or follow the markers that point out the regular routes. You can run for free by joining the Run for a Reason program and running for AFFEC! The Run for a Reason program makes it possible to enjoy the Eugene Marathon run while raising money to support foster youth and AFFEC’s many programs at the same time!

You can learn more about Run for a Reason by visiting their webpage. Hoping to raise $50,000 for local and national charities, Run for a Reason provides an excellent fundraising incentive. Fundraising closes the Saturday after the race, and the minimum amounts for fundraising are $250 for the Marathon and Half Marathon, and $100 for the Eugene 5k.

Here’s how you can run for AFFEC! First, you can register as part of the AFFEC team by following this link. Then, AFFEC will get back to you with a registration code for your specific race. Next, you can go out and fundraise, letting others know what you’re doing and the great reason why you’re doing it! Finally, the run will be taking place from April 23 to May 2, so don’t miss out!

Contact Alex Graham at to ask about how you can run for A Family For Every Child!