How Small Children Communicate Their Distress

Foster Care in South Africa

climbing_out_of_crib-525x315Small children don’t possess the ability to verbally communicate when they are experiencing distress in their lives. It is therefore very important for foster parents to be aware of the ways in which they are able to communicate distress.

They communicate their emotional state through play, art (drawings), limited words (gestures/sounds), and their behavior. Generally, children respond to distress in their lives by reverting to behavior typical of an earlier developmental stage. These responses are considered ‘normal’ if they are of brief (less than three weeks) duration. The key is to watch for behavior that is unusual for your young child (age 1-6), or a combination thereof.

• Bedwetting (after already having mastered)
• Thumb sucking
• Fear of animals
• Crying
• Wetting Pants
• Fear of crowds
• Re-enacting event
• Excessive clinging
• Loss of bowel control
• Fear of being left alone
• Wants to go to heaven


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