10 Challenges Foster Children Face and Their Solutions

Updated: Feb 26, 2023
By Happiness Hassan
Challenges Foster Children
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There is a wide range of challenges foster children face as they move towards a better life away from their horrifying background. These challenges are a result of their abusive or neglected experiences. 

The majority of foster children find it difficult to cope due to their past experiences that have affected their mental health, emotional coordination, and general well-being. 

Here in Nigeria, not all foster children are under state custody. Children who are orphaned, deserted by parents, or can’t be taken care of by their parents are often given to close/extended relatives to be cared for. Similarly, these children can be given to families who aren’t related to them. 

Perhaps, you have a foster child under your care or you’re planning on signing up for one, it’s advisable you learn about the challenges foster children face, to enable you to know how to support that child in the best way possible. 

In this guide, you will learn about common foster child behaviors, the challenges foster kids face, and their solutions.

Common Foster Child Behaviors

1. Social Withdrawal

Foster kids find it difficult to associate with others or build an attachment to their foster parents. They are likely to be seen all by themselves, without the vibes to meet new people.

2. Depression

Depression is a common behavior among foster children who are likely victims of child abuse. Often, they are unhappy, moody and might even cry as they try to adapt to their new foster family. 

You might want to watch out for signs that shows someone is emotionally damaged because most foster kids are. This way, you know how best to support them. 

3. Disrespectful

Some foster children struggle to accept the authority of their foster parents, especially those who have been taking care of themselves previously. Being rude, talking back, disobedience, and non-compliance are common behaviors experienced.

4. Aggressive

The challenges foster children face as a result of their past can make them aggressive. They can retaliate with violence when a situation or conversation reminds them of their past.

Their experience has made them lose control of how to recognize and control their emotions. Also, they are hyper-vigilance about everything around them and can get suspicious too. 

5. Anxiety

Fear and worry is the attitude foster kids might have to live with, since they can’t trust anyone other than themselves. They are often afraid of being hurt again.

6. Confusion

Lack of concentration is a common trait in foster kids. They are confused about what is happening around them and what the future holds. 

They are left to choose between their abusive background or a foster family. This could be tough for them to process at the same time. 

Challenges Foster Children Face and Their Solutions

1. Difficulty Trusting Again

They trusted their parents and ended up hurt and deserted. Hence, foster children struggle to trust any adult, including those who are nice to them. 

This makes It challenging for you as a foster parent to build a connection with a foster child. 

Tips: Don’t try to force a foster child to trust you, instead you might want to learn how to be patient with kids since you would need a truckload of patience to help such a child cope. 

Also, through love, good parenting, and practicing activities that increase the love bond between parents and children, a foster child will grow to trust you.

2. Missing Their Family

Missing their family is one of the challenges foster children face as they get separated from their families. 

There is no place like home. Therefore, despite the trauma experienced in their home, foster children are likely to miss their homes.

Tips: Don’t hesitate to give foster children your support by helping them keep their family memories alive through pictures and artwork. If possible, you might also encourage them to visit their family once in a while to make them happy. 

3. Grief and Loss

Separation from their parents can cause foster child hurt and pain as they feel grieved. This can make them depressed, withdrawn, or aggressive depending on the nature of the child involved. 

Tips: Encourage your foster child and let him know that the separation was for his best. Let him also know that whatever happened was never his fault to avoid him from feeling guilty.

Give him a listening ear if he wants to express his feelings and give him some time alone if he asks for it. 

4. Difficulty Building Connection

Foster children are withdrawn from social gatherings as they feel nobody loves them or wants them around. This category of kids suffers from low self-esteem, fear of rejection, and poor communication skills. 

Tips: Teach your foster child how to bond with other kids by enrolling him in a school club, sport, and even developmental skill. This is also a great way to discover and boost your foster child’s passion.

5. Multiple Placement

Challenges foster children face include frequent and multiple placements. Foster children have no control over their life and can’t make decisions for themselves. 

Hence, they are prone to be moved from one foster family to another, to enable them to get the environment that suits their specific needs. 

They are prone to poor academic performance and health services. This is because their education and medical services get changed as they move from place to place. 

Tips: As a foster parent, ensure your home is suitable for a specific foster child before signing up for one. This enables the child to feel at home without fear of being moved to another family. 

6. Adjustment to New Environment

It takes longer for foster kids to feel comfortable in their new foster homes. They are new to the home and suspicious about everything and everyone in the home. Therefore, you might find them reserved and hyper-vigilance when they first arrive. 

Tips: Just the way you felt uncomfortable on your first day at school, so do foster kids feel on their first day in a foster home. You gradually got used to the school, pupils, teachers, and environment as time went on. Likewise, with time and a friendly approach foster kids can get to adjust to their new environment. 

7. Fear and Anxiety

The challenges foster children face resolves around fear and anxiety. They are scared about everything including their foster family, the food they eat, the room they sleep in and even the kind gesture offered to them. They can be terrified at the sight of a certain person who reminds them of their hurting past.

Tips: Fear and anxiety are normal traits found in foster children. You can encourage them to trust new adults in their lives again through positive parenting. Avoid imposing strict rules and regulations on them as they are yet to understand the new phase of their life. Take it slow and easy on them.

8. Abuse

Not all foster children are lucky to be in a stable foster home. Hence, some foster kids get to suffer from child abuse in their foster homes. This ranges from physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect abuse. 

Tips: Fostering a child isn’t a thing of force. Therefore, you’re under no obligation to keep a foster child you can’t adequately take care of, and this might result in abuse. 

Child abuse is a punishing offense in every society. So, you should stay out of trouble if you can’t handle a foster child by not signing up for a foster child at all. 

9. Traumatic Experience

In most cases, foster children go through great distress from their previous home. This experience inflicts unbearable pain that results in trauma in these children. It becomes difficult for them to process their thoughts and emotions.

Tips: If you have a foster child who is going through a traumatic experience, a therapist is best recommended for such a child. You might not be able to provide professional help for that child but a therapist would.


Fostering can be a difficult task to cope with as a foster parent because foster children can be tough due to their abusive or neglected backgrounds. However, understanding the challenges foster children face can inform you of what to expect when you have a foster child and how to support such a child. 

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

What do you think might be some of the challenges you could face as a foster carer?

Challenges foster carers face includes supporting a foster child with traumatic experiences, building a connection with different backgrounds, and fending for the foster child’s education, health care, and general well-being.

What are the disadvantages of fostering?

Supporting a foster child with a traumatic experience and behavioral disorder is a great disadvantage of fostering you will have to deal with as a foster parent.

What is the biggest challenge in fostering?

The biggest challenge in fostering is the ability to build connection and trust with a child from an abusive or neglected background. Oftentimes, these kids might make it hard for you by pushing you away, but you have to keep trying. 

What are some of the most common issues displayed by foster children?

In addition to being taken away from their primary caregivers, children in foster care have also been subjected to abuse or neglect before being taken into care. As a result, a lot of foster kids struggle with emotional and behavioral problems.

What is good about being a foster parent?

Being a foster parent allows you to provide for the needs of a foster child in the best way. This is a way of helping a child love again, stay happy, and become a better version of himself, irrespective of his horrible past. 


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