Topic C: “She loved us from the first day – or did she?” The fear of separation

The fear of separation will often make the child do anything to adjust to the new caregivers and to prevent one more rejection. Some children seem to love their foster parents and adjust perfectly from the first day, and the child may contact anyone it meets in a very charming way. But building a true emotional bond takes a long time, so you should see this as the child’s way of making sure that it is not rejected again. This over-adjustment behaviour is driven by fear of separation, and after some months the child will probably feel more secure and start showing the problems and conflicts it may have. Starting to show what is difficult as well as having conflicts is in fact a sign that the child is beginning to trust you by not trying to hide its problems for you.

Here are some questions for reflections and dialogue:

  • What were the child´s first reactions to meeting you?
  • Can you think of yourselves as helping the child to adjust by containing and being patient?
  • Does the child show much fear of separation from you? How can you manage this in a calm and kind way when it happens?
  • Is the child trying to be charming and live up to your expectations – how can you respond this?