How to deal with foster child bullying


Bullying can be a difficult and challenging issue for children and young people - and it can be even more challenging for foster children who may be dealing with additional issues related to their background and experiences. If you suspect that your foster child is being bullied, it's important to take action and to work with your child, their social worker, and other supportive adults to address the issue. This guide will provide you with the tools you need to help deal with foster child bullying, whether you are concerned your foster child is being bullied or concerned about the possibility of your foster child bullying others.

What is foster child bullying?

Bullying can take many different forms. It is a repeated and deliberate behaviour that is designed to hurt or harm someone. Bullying can have serious consequences both for the victim and the bully. Some common types of bullying include;

  • Physical Bullying: Physical bullying can consist of physical violence or aggression, such as hitting, pushing, biting or stealing.
  • Emotional Bullying: Emotional bullying is the act of hurting someone’s feelings or damaging their self-esteem. Some actions which are considered emotional bullying include spreading rumours about someone or excluding them from a group.
  • Verbal Bullying: Verbal bullying includes using words to hurt or intimidate people, like name calling, verbal threats or teasing.
  • Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is where technology is used to bully someone, like texting mean messages or posting embarrassing photos or pictures online.

What are some of the signs my foster child is being bullied?

If you suspect your foster child is being bullied there are various signs to look out for. However, it’s important to remember that not all children who are being bullied will show these signs, and some might not show any signs at all.

What to do if your foster child is being bullied

It can be upsetting if you suspect your foster child is being bullied. It’s natural as a foster parent that you’d want to do everything within your power to help. The most important action you can take is to make sure your foster child knows they can come to you for support. Other ways you can support your foster child include.

  • Provide emotional support: It’s important to provide emotional support as your foster child copes with the situation. Be patient and understanding and offer them a safe and supportive environment to talk about their experiences.
  • Talk to your foster child: Communication is key, let your foster child know that they are not to blame for being bullied and that they can talk to you about what’s happening.
  • Talk to your social worker: At Excel Fostering, you’ll have your own assigned social worker who’ll be up to date on your situation. If you suspect your foster child is being bullied it’s important to raise your concerns immediately.
  • Talk to another adult: If the bullying happens at school or at an extracurricular activity, it’s important to speak to a teacher or coach to make them aware of the situation.
  • Agree on a plan of action: Together with your child’s social worker, other adults and the child themselves set a plan of action to help your child to combat bullying. This might include rehearsing how the child should respond when bullied or giving them ways to boost their confidence and raise their self-esteem.

It’s important to take any mention of bullying your foster child makes seriously - bullying can bring any unresolved trauma or issues to the forefront of your foster child’s mind. It’s important you work closely with Excel Fostering to make sure your foster child feels safe and protected.

What to do if your foster child is bullying others?

The thought of your foster child bullying another child can be very distressing. However, it’s still important to have a level of empathy for your foster child as they may have been exposed to problematic behaviours in their childhood or be acting out to establish control. If your foster child is bullying others, it’s important to tackle it in a calm and controlled manner. Some of the actions you can take include;

  • Communication: Talk to your foster child, and establish that the behaviour is not acceptable. Help your foster child understand how their actions can affect others and how they can damage relationships and reputations. It’s important to also speak to your child’s assigned social worker and any other authoritative adults to keep them aware of the situation. It may also help to speak to other foster carers in your support group for additional help and advice surrounding their personal experiences.
  • Agree on a plan of action: Working together with your foster child and the other adults involved in their care, agree on a plan of action. This might include providing additional support and supervision or teaching your foster child more appropriate ways of interacting with others. You may want to consider seeking professional help to address the underlying issues that might contribute to the bullying.

How can Excel Fostering help?

We provide a wealth of support for our foster carers and children here at Excel Fostering. In addition to 24/7 out-of-hours support, a dedicated social worker and training in looking after children and young people with challenging behaviours.

We also offer therapeutic foster care for children with complex needs. Our therapeutic foster carers receive special training and are provided with the necessary support and resources to provide therapeutic care to their foster child. This service, known as MATTS, includes an in-house psychological assessment and 1:1 support to ensure that carers never feel alone in their role.

For more support and advice about what you should do if your child is being bullied, speak to our helpful team today.

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