I am a fostered child. I’ve lived in many places.

I’ve forgotten lots of names but remember all the faces.

Julie was my favourite, she always called me sweetheart.

I wish they hadn’t moved me, I didn’t need a fresh start

My behaviour was my loudest voice but no one chose to listen.

They said they couldn’t cope so they bounced me round the system.

So many different families, so many different schools.

They said I could have stayed if hadn’t broke the rules.

They called the families placements and I was just a LAC.

I knew they wouldn’t keep me when they realised I’m so crap.

I didn’t need a placement, I didn’t need a label.

I needed understanding but they were just not able

No one ever missed me but I think Julie might have done.

I wish she could have kept me and I’d become her son.

I knew I should have stayed there but was too scared of it ending.

She would surely see that I was beyond mending.

All I ever wanted was to live in someone’s heart.

Someone who could promise me that we would never part.

But when you feel so terrible, rotten to the core.

You know it’s only time before you’re out the door.

I’ve never had stability, never had routine

Twenty seven families and I’m only just 14.

I hope things will be different now that I’m with Mike.

He said I’m going nowhere when I put up a fight.

He says he’s knows I’m struggling and will help me work out why.

I lie and steal and swear at him and find it hard to cry.

Mike says I’m a fighter but he’ll take on the war.

With Therapeutic Parenting I’ll never ‘see’ the door.

Consistency and boundaries, structure, warmth and love.

After every incident, he still gives me a hug.

Perhaps I might have met the one who means it when they say.

You’re not going anywhere, you are here to stay.

Sarah Dillon (c) NATP Therapeutic Lead.

I’ve got a terrible feeling in my chest, it’s like a bird that won’t take a rest

I’m struggling to breathe, and I feel really sick

My head feels heavy and my heart like a brick

I don’t want to take things, but they say I’m a thief

I’ll be in prison if I keep on like this

I must be as bad as I think I am

Disgusting, unlovable, totally mad!

When I steal stuff, I get a great big high

It makes all the bad feelings appear to die

Not for long though as It’s worse when I’m done

I know I’m not worthy of being your son.

Like a scratch that I’ve got to itch, an urge that I can’t control

For a moment, a second, it makes me feel whole

I forget about everything else at the time

I just want it, I have it, even though it’s not mine.

I will take things I don’t even need

I lie and say “it wasn’t me” or find someone else to blame

At night I lay awake as waves of shame envelop my soul

To be a thief was never my goal.

Like a self-harmer who cuts their arm

A warm whooshy feeling and then some calm

A break from the bird that’s trapped in their chest

Unable to verbalise their internal mess.

It’s like driving a car without any brakes

A liar, a thief, he steals, he takes

My brain doesn’t tell me to STOP, it’s not mine!

That part of my brain just isn’t online

I need you to help me to calm the bird

To listen, to hold me and tell me you’ve heard

To find ways to comfort my aching heart

Lessen the pain that tears me apart.

Please can you gently rewire my brain

And find ways to reduce my toxic shame

To reassure me and let me know

You’re not giving up and you’re not letting go.

Remove the temptation and come alongside

Name the need that chooses to hide

Show me ways to put things right

To link cause and effect without a fight

As I begin to grow my brain you will eventually see a change

A beautiful lovely boy underneath

No longer unworthy, no longer a THIEF!

Written by Sarah Dillon (former child in care) from the child's perspective.

(C) Sarah Dillon

Car journeys can be extremely triggering for children with a history of trauma. Sarah Dillon, Therapeutic Parenting expert explains why in more details below.

WHY this might happen:

1. Transitions increase the stress response within the child.

2. Child has heightened levels of Cortisol within their system which significantly increases during the journey.

3. When initially removed from birth family and subsequent moves will have been done in a car

4. Social workers drive cars.

5. The brain stores this information as a traumatic event which is then triggered again during some or all car journeys.

6. Child hasn’t got your attention. Their behaviour may induce negative attention but it’s still attention!

7. Your back is turned towards the child which can be perceived as rejection, being forgotten or being ignored.

8. Other early life fears are also triggered at this time such as fear of not being fed so they may demand food.

9. Child feels trapped and their fight/flight/freeze mechanism is ignited.

10. Child scared about where you might be taking them. Are they moving to another home???

11. If going to school, nursery etc, they need to prepare themselves for separation from you. This can cause feelings of fear of rejection and abandonment. They’ll often reject you before you get a chance to reject them.

12. They feel very out of control because the driver (you) are in control of the car and therefore in control of them. This can cause extreme fear as they fear adults and have an innate NEED to be in control to feel safe

13. They can’t cope with a silent journey as the CALM comes before a STORM, so they create the storm to get it out of the way.

14. Child can’t identify and express any physical discomfort during the journey such as travel sickness etc. They communicate this via their behaviour.

WHAT might help make your car journey easier:

1. Naming the need, emotions driving the behaviour and feed this back to the child. You might say something like ‘I wonder if you’re feeling sad about going to school/nursery today which is why you’re wobbly on the journey’.

2. Remind the child you haven’t forgotten them while you’re driving.

3. Sing to them when driving.

4. Play songs you can sing together.

5. Play games such as let’s count how many red cars we can see or something similar.

6. Have food they can either chew or crunch and a cup with a stiff straw to suck though.

7. Sit child who wobbles the most behind passenger seat. You can still see them!

8. STOP if journey becomes unsafe or pull over as soon as safe to do so.

9. Tell child/children you can see they’re struggling and ‘name the need’ regulate the child. Then sit and read a book or something similar until they’re ready for you to drive safely again.

10. Use natural or logical consequences such as ‘hopefully we’ll be able to drive again in a minute or sadly we’ll have less time at the park later because I’ll have to find the time I’ve lost sitting here. That would be such a shame’ Or ‘unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to do XYZ drive later as it’s far too dangerous. Sadly, we’ll have to walk’.

11. Try to have two adults on the journey (one in the back if possible).

12. Use transitional objects from home. Perhaps a teddy or small toy.

13. Give them something that smells of you hold while you drive.

14. Have fleecy blankets in car to for child to wrap around them or for them to hide under if feeling unsafe.

15. NB * If all else fails, breathe deeply and talk to yourself.

© Sarah Dillon – NATP Committee Member

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