New parents create schedules for their babies and veering from the designated routine can cause big issues. Foster parents should be consistent with the children in their care, regardless of the age of the child. These children may not have ever had any set schedule or expectations, which can lead to uncertainty and mistrust.
In a consistent household, the rules and consequences must remain the same day after day. Children in foster care households that follow a consistent routine know what is and is not permitted. They are also aware of the consequences of their poor choices. Children can never claim to be unknowing when the rules are explained and enforced on a regular basis.
It is important to keep messages short and to the point when speaking with children. What is stated is even more important than the length of the message. Foster parents should say the same thing in the same way each time. Children will begin to associate the entire topic with the phrase that is spoken. However, saying it is not enough- foster parents must also practice it. No changes should be made without a very good reason.
Laying down a rule like grounding for a month must be reinforced. Even if the children are pouting or acting up because they are in the house all day, the plan should remain in force. Shortening the grounding period creates inconsistency. This teaches the foster children not to believe what their caregivers say. They may then disregard rules or their consequences, creating a bigger issue.
Consistency should also be applied to scheduling by fitting meals, homework, and bedtime into the daily routine. Though it may be difficult to keep a schedule, it is worthwhile. The children will be calmer and begin to increase their trust level. Though there may be some complaining, children usually appreciate the stability they never had before.