At a Royal Family KIDS Camp last summer, I met Emma*, a 7-year-old girl living in foster care. Emma was the kind of child who called attention to herself wherever she went. During chapel time, Emma would stand at the front of the room and beg to be called on to answer the speaker’s questions. In line for meals, she would complain loudly when she wasn’t at the front of the line. And at craft time, she needed to do all of the crafts.
You’ve probably met kids like Emma. There are many reasons for a child to behave in attention-seeking ways, but many children served by our For The Children chapters behave this way because they come from backgrounds of trauma including abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Their life experiences have led them to believe that adults won’t meet their needs. Some of them seek attention like Emma did. Many resort to more extreme behaviors. And some simply shut down, believing they don’t matter.
At For The Children, our dream is a world where Emma—and every child-- experiences unconditional love, hope and safety.
Kids deserve love, no matter what. Whatever their behaviors or who they are living with, they need to know they are loved.
Sadly, children like Emma often feel that they don’t deserve to be loved. Although their behaviors didn’t land them in foster care—because foster care is the result of what was done to them, not what they did—many children feel that there must be something deeply wrong with them to have deserved such hurt.
Volunteers in our Royal Family KIDS programs are trained to show love to children like Emma, even when their behaviors could be seen as "out of line." When we need to redirect behavior, we always do it in a way that communicates, “You are precious.”
When children are in foster care, their situations often feel hopeless. For children, separation from their parents feels heartbreaking, even if the parents have made choices that hurt them.
A child’s sense of hopelessness can be reinforced by experiences in foster care such as being moved multiple times or being separated from siblings.
For The Children exists to demonstrate to children that their situation is never hopeless. When a child participates in camp or mentoring through our Royal Family KIDS program, they learn how God loves them and has good plans for their lives. Hope is contagious, and our volunteers demonstrate that hope to every child.
It’s not difficult to imagine that a child like Emma might feel unsafe. When a child has been harmed in relationship, as all children in foster care have been, they often feel as if they are not safe, even when they are in a safe environment. They don’t know that there are some adults who can be trusted, because the adults they trusted most allowed them to be hurt.
Volunteers with our Royal Family KIDS programs learn how to help children feel safe through Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), an evidence-based practice for helping children who have experienced trauma. TBRI techniques help calm children’s brains so that they can feel safe.
As a result, children can have fun and learn to trust people again.
At For The Children, we are grateful that we can be part of helping children to experience unconditional love, hope and safety. Join us today by volunteering or becoming a monthly donor!
*Name changed for privacy