The other day we were discussing a child that lives with another set of houseparents. She was acting out quite a bit. Then went home to visit her birth mom and came back even worse.
I was trying to come up with ideas to help them try and deal with her behavior. Suggesting various consequences and things like behavioral charts. My wife was listening to our conversation and said you know why she has gotten worse, she has checked out.
Apparently when she went home her mother told her, or she believes her mother told her, that she was going to pull her out at the end of the school year, because she felt she was getting into too much trouble. We have several girls the same age in our cottage and that is what they were told by this other girl.
It makes perfect sense and I have seen it several times in the past, I just wish I had realized it first; made me feel kind of dumb. However, I am sitting here thinking of several children I have known in the past that have found out that they were being reunited with their birth family, that quit being cooperative with us, quit following house rules, and even tried to destroy any relationship we have build with them.
I am sure in her mind she is thinking that “if getting in some trouble will get mom thinking about letting me come home then if I really cause problems it will happen sooner!” (Note: We are a long term residential foster care facility; children are placed here because of a crisis in the family that prevents them from being able to be cared for, not because they have difficult behaviors that need to be dealt with or are delinquent.)
The sad thing is that it will probably work, and will reinforce in this child that bad behavior gets rewarded.
Or the child didn’t hear what she thought she did, and coordination between the birth parent, administration, and the houseparents will help her understand that there are much better, more positive ways to try and get what she wants.