We Can Help Improve Foster Youth’s Self-Esteem
We all know the adolescent years are tough. Teenagers are trying to find their place in the world and must do it while enduring peer pressure and puberty. They often struggle to feel confident and accepted by their age group, and an increasing number face mental health problems.
But teens in foster care face an even steeper uphill battle.
Children in foster care have often experienced complex trauma. Some suffered years of abuse or neglect at the hands of people who were supposed to protect them. And as dire as their circumstances may have been, the upheaval of entering foster care and meeting new caregivers presents many emotional challenges. Shockingly, a 2005 study found that children in foster care have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at twice the rate of combat veterans, and as many as 80% of foster youth have significant mental health issues.
Low self-esteem among foster care youth is also common. The problem may stem from previous abuse or neglect by their biological families. Many children also undergo multiple placements in foster care, making stability and emotional bonding with their caretakers difficult. Then there’s the bullying and ostracization they can face because they lack access to new clothes or technology. Many teens in foster care feel like they don’t “fit in” anywhere.
Fortunately, research shows that foster children can build self-esteem and resiliency through positive relationships. These bonds might be with extended relatives, teachers, social workers, coaches, or fellow worshipers at church. Another study found that helping other people can build self-esteem in teenagers. Structure and regular praise also play a role.
Like all youth, fostered teens need to feel cared for. Fostering Christmas tries to accomplish that with our annual holiday gift drive. But there are also very real personal matters to attend to. No matter how much love and care we shower on foster youth, they still need resources and products that make them feel good about themselves.
High school is rough — but it’s a lot harder for teens who don’t have access to essential hygiene items like deodorant, soap, and shampoo. Many foster kids can’t access basic hygiene supplies. They face acne without face wash and homeroom without hair styling products. Even obtaining period products can be a struggle!
No teen should face this reality. So in May, Fostering Christmas is launching a Hygiene Drive to celebrate National Teen Self-Esteem Month. We will collect an array of toiletries teens need to be clean and confident, and social workers will distribute them to youth in the foster system. Every donation counts! A few dollars per product can help change a foster teen’s life.
We look forward to launching the drive on May 1 and seeing the generosity of our Treasure Valley community! Stay tuned for more details about how you can help.