Adults often feel confused, upset, and drained when dealing with anger expressed by a child. Often, this situation stirs up angry feelings in the adult as well. To better deal with the anger of a foster child, adults should rid themselves of the notion that an angry child is a bad child. Rather than destroying or repressing these feelings in the child, foster parents should accept them and direct those feelings toward a constructive outcome.
To effectively respond to the angry feelings of a child, foster parents should figure out what triggered this response in the first place. In some cases, anger is due to depression or dependency. Many things that adults express as sadness, children express as anger. Keep in mind that anger and aggression are two different things. While anger is temporary and emotional, aggression often manifests as an attempt at hurting someone or something.
Foster parents should be motivated by reaching and protecting an angry child, not by the desire to inflict punishment. Adults should illustrate that they accept the feelings of the child and suggest alternative ways to express these feelings. Telling the child that the behavior is unacceptable is not enough. The foster parent must teach the child acceptable ways to cope.
Communication regarding what is expected is important. Punishment is not the best way to do this. Addressing the exhibition of positive feelings and good behaviors is recommended. Foster parents should make positive comments about the actions and feelings, in an attempt to reinforce these. If inappropriate behavior is tolerable, adults should ignore the behavior but inform the child that it is unacceptable.
Using humor to ease tension and showing appropriate levels of affection may reduce angry feelings in a child. Children should regularly be provided with opportunities to exercise while they are in foster care. Young foster children often need attention and foster parents should be ready, willing, and able to provide it.