By Carol Jones
Many of our foster children have been through trauma and tragedy we cannot imagine. One of the ways they have survived is to not expect anything good in their lives. They don’t trust adults to do good things for them. They take control of the situation and do things that do not make positive relationships easy.
Foster kids can show false bravado such as the child that says he can play all the instruments in the band even though he has never touched one. Another child might say she can drive a car because she “drove” a go-cart in an adult’s lap when she was four. You can’t talk kids out of these beliefs. If you challenge the child he/she will say “you don’t think they can do anything!”, “you don’t believe me!” or other negative things. It is best to say “OK” and move on. Don’t make fun of them or allow other people to do so!
Four types of traumatized children have been identified. Not all traumatized children develop these characteristics.
- Aggressive: These are angry children who see the world as a dangerous place where only the strong survive. Often these children have been raised by adults who require that the children to stick up for themselves. They are easily frustrated, impulsive and fearless. They get satisfaction by intimidating others.
- Passive-aggressive: These are resentful children who see the world as unfair and not a place to show real feelings. They get what they need through sneakiness and manipulation. They can be destructive and will do things such as peel the wallpaper off a wall in a hidden place or tear up a picture they drew rather than let you see it. They use words to defend themselves especially against those in power.
- Avoidant: These children are frequently depressed and easily overwhelmed children. They have low self-esteem and many times come from parents who are dealing with depression. Some of these children have biochemical imbalances that lead to depression. They tend to believe that no one cares so they withdraw, making excuses while putting in minimal effort into making connections.
- Dependent: They are anxious and uncertain in stressful situations. They tend to wheedle, intimidate, and manipulate adults. They crave attention, approval and reassurance from those in power. In relationships they are overly compliant and eager to please, then they become clingy, whiney and demanding when needs are not met. Peers eventually tire of them and they experience rejection and move on to the next relationship.
For each of these types of children, their behavior allows them directly or indirectly to control their lives. They all take failure over success as long as they are controlling the narrative.