The events which lead many children to be placed in the adoption or foster care system can often lead to a good deal of psychological and emotional trauma. This trauma can cause the child to act out in a number of ways that can be dangerous to themselves or others. In these situations, it's imperative that parents create a safety plan for their families.
A safety plan is an organized system of rules and guidelines used to supervise and structure time and space, due to the behavior of one or more members of the family.
A safety plan is for the safety and well-being of the members who are acting out, as well as for the other members of the family, including pets and property.
How Do You Know if You Need a Safety Plan?
A safety plan may be exactly what your family needs when the following is occurring within your home:
Sexual Acting Out
- The child is openly masturbating in the family areas of the home.
- The child is acting out with a family pet.
- The child is acting out with dolls, stuffed animals, or other toys.
- The child is acting out with siblings or other children in the family or neighborhood; this may include things like sexualized talk or inappropriate touch.
- The child is verbally abusive to family members.
- The child is physically abusive to family members and/or pets.
- The child destroys property when angry, which may result in harming the child or others.
- The child is quick to anger and has little self-control once angry. They can not regulate their emotions.
- A child leaves the house whenever an adult's back is turned.
- The child gets up in the middle of the night, whether to sleepwalk, to eat, or just to explore.
- The child has a history or known fascination with fire.
- The child has begun setting fire to things.
The safety plan is something that the family can create alone or with a professional such as a social worker or therapist.
It is wise to share the safety plan with the professionals who are involved in the child's case. This lets the social workers and therapists know that you are ready and able to deal with the situation in a professional way.
It's important to remember that your child's behavior is likely a reaction to horrible events in their past. The ways some children act out are a reflection of the things that may have been done to them as a child. This is especially true of children who were sexually abused. These are not issues that can be solved by "loving" your child more and are usually not a sign that you're a bad parent. Getting your child professional help in addition to creating a safety plan is the best step you can take towards them resolve their issues.