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Five Therapeutic Parenting Techniques Used by Foster Carers That You Can Apply at Home

therapeutic parenting techniques

Learning how to respond to challenging behaviour is a vital part of caring for your child – but it’s not always easy. Providing boundaries, structure, and consistency, while trying to manage and regulate your own emotions, can be difficult.

For children in care, distressed behaviour can be a response to adverse childhood experiences, or a coping mechanism that once helped them feel safe.

Five Rivers is a fostering agency that promotes a therapeutic approach to childcare. Training is delivered by a team of Psychologists, Psychotherapists, and Clinicians. Foster Carers develop their understanding of attachment, trauma, and child development so they can support children in a therapeutic, relational way.

We have spoken to specialists at Five Rivers to tap into their expertise. Here are their top recommendations on responding to behaviour that challenges, and strengthening your emotional connection with your child.

  1. Be Curious, not Furious

Five Rivers Foster Carers are trained to use active listening and maintain a spirit of inquiry. Senior Principal Psychologist Charles Wells says: “This involves being open to understanding what’s going on for the young person. ‘I wonder what led to that?’ rather than ‘Why did you do that?!’ Foster Carers must explore their own internal experiences and ask, ‘What’s going on here for me?’”

  1. High Levels of Nurture and High Levels of Structure

Fostering Engagement Social Worker Tanya Gray explains: “Love is not enough – our carers need to parent with Love and Limits. This means responding with acceptance and empathy while also providing consistency, structure, and boundaries.”

  1. Respond Rather than React

Foster Carers are trained to stop and think instead of simply reacting. They regulate their own threat response before responding to the child. Moving away from sudden emotion-driven decisions takes time and practice. We must acknowledge that we are continually learning, growing, and challenging ourselves as parents, Carers, and individuals.

  1. Relationships are Key

Strategies alone are not enough – relationships hold it all together. Senior Principal Psychologist Charles Wells explains: “Instead of exclusively focussing on using positive/negative consequences to change behaviour, we need to prioritise building trust and understanding”.

  1. We are all Doing Our Best

Work from the assumption that we are all just doing our best. Children are surviving the best way they know how. Meet children where they are and build from there, rather than expecting them to already know how to do tricky things (like expecting a child to manage difficult emotions). Accept that, as human beings, we have good days and bad days.

Could you Foster?

A career in foster care means you are part of a dedicated team around a child. Together with Social Workers and Psychologists, Psychotherapists, and Clinicians, Foster Carers help children recover from trauma and fulfil their full potential.

If you have some of the skills mentioned in this article, such as patience, empathy, and understanding – consider fostering.

Some of our Carers choose to give up work to foster, which means they can spend more time at home with their families. They also receive 24/7 support, which extends to the whole fostering family.

Interested in fostering with Five Rivers? Call 0333 0603 962, email or book a call using the button below.

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