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Everything you need to know before starting our Therapeutic Parenting courses

At The Fostering Foundation, our mission is to ensure we deliver the best possible care for the children we are called to protect, and that means teaching our wonderful foster carers skills and techniques to deal with any situation and to help the children and young people in their care to thrive.
We are advocates of Therapeutic Parenting, which we always begin teaching to all our foster carers during their Skills to Foster training. This is in addition to other important and complementary skills such as First Aid and Safeguarding training.

What is Therapeutic Parenting?
Therapeutic Parenting is a highly effective parenting technique for children who have suffered trauma in their young lives; such as experiencing neglect or abuse, witnessing domestic violence, or being removed from their birth families.
It is a way of parenting a child in a highly nurturing and connecting way that helps ensure their needs are met. This allows foster carers to provide support, set boundaries and build trust with the children in their care. Even better, building these connections helps to build reciprocal relationships – it’s all about influencing each other.

What do I learn in my Therapeutic Parenting course?
You’ll begin your journey into Therapeutic Parenting during your Skills to Foster training, where we’ll start with a session about supporting and understanding the behaviour of children in your care. In brief, we introduce you to the possible impact of early life trauma and how it can influence behaviours and self-esteem.
There are common themes of experience often shared by children in foster care, and this is partly due to the way our brains are shaped and formed by early experiences. Children who have been neglected can develop defensive strategies to navigate the world – this is often expressed through their behaviour.
These common themes are often called the four challenges of parenting and are:
• Blocked trust: where lack of consistency in previous environment results in struggling to trust an adult’s availability and intentions
• Fear of intersubjectivity: where poor relationships cause a resulting fear of trusting in new relationships
• Hidden needs: where a child has not had their needs met previously, and so hides or misrepresents their needs out of fear of what the reaction may be
• Experiencing overwhelming shame: children who have experienced neglect, poor caregiving or relinquishment may have low self-worth and self-esteem, assume responsibility for their situation and feel unworthy of love or respect

Therapeutic Parenting helps us emotionally connect to children and young people – firstly, by understanding the common challenges and then by approaching caregiving by using PACE.

What is PACE parenting?
PACE is an acronym that describes how we can approach caregiving in a therapeutic and supportive way, allowing the child to work out their feelings and actions in a safe and supportive environment. It allows carers to create safe environments by providing clear and consistent boundaries and routine, natural and logical consequences to actions, and – most importantly – prioritising your connection with each other before correcting behaviours.

Playfulness: creating an atmosphere of lightness and interest, having fun and expressing joy, through elements like your tone of voice. Helping children to be more open to positive experiences
Acceptance: this means acknowledging the feelings, thoughts and motivations that are driving behaviours, and ensuring that children understand that, even if their behaviours are being disciplined or criticised, it’s not the same as criticising who they are – and that they are safe with you
Curiosity: curiosity means helping children to tease out the reasons behind their own behaviours, helping them becomes self-aware without judging them, and providing a safe space for open dialogue
Empathy: being empathic and understanding is about acknowledging what children are going through, letting them know they are not alone but can develop resilience

Using this technique helps us understand or acknowledge the internal world of children, taking trauma into account and providing clear routines and boundaries. This can be put into practise every day, through good and bad times, inviting children to problem solve, provide recognition, and provide support.

When do I learn Therapeutic Parenting?
After your Skills to Foster course, you will be invited to take a six-week Foundations for Attachment course, which is provided virtually. Not just that, but after you have completed your course you can access monthly support groups provided by The Fostering Foundation to discuss any issues and share your successes!

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