Select Page

Session 6/15

Page 2/4 Topic A: Task and relations work

Topic A: Task and relations work

Children must learn from you how to bond with people, how feel attached to them, and how to interact with others.
They learn how to be social from the way you manage to interact with them and the way you work with relations.

In this sense, you as a professional foster carer is the most important person in the life of the child placed outside its biological family.

They do not have their parents as teachers, so they must rely on their foster parents for learning. The social skills they should have learned from their parents, they must now learn from you. This is sometimes a burden of responsibility, but also a gift: when you succeed, you have given the child a secure base: a positive foundation for life.

Doing this in practice is not easy if you are responsible for the care of many children, so let us look at the practical task:
When you work with children, you always work with two different tasks. You need to do a lot of practical things: facilitate activities with the children, get dressed, put them to bed, wash them, changing diapers, etc. This is necessary for fulfilling the basic needs of the child (food, sleep, activities) and for making a natural rhythm of activities during the day. While you do all this, you also work with the relation: while you get the child dressed you also talk to the child, respond to the child, get the attention of the child, smile and caress the child and so on. This is necessary for making the child feel secure, for promoting attachment, and for social and emotional education in general. And as mentioned, the emotional state of the child is essential for its brain development.

It is always difficult to balance task and relation. Let us look at these videos demonstrating three different ways of managing it. In all three examples, the task is the same, but the ways in which the caregiver relates with the child are different.

This employee focuses on the task – she does not relate while changing the diaper. She is quickly finished and can go on to the next child, but the child did not learn anything about how to relate to others.

This woman is also changing a diaper – but at the same time she also talks a lot to the baby, and she tries to get the child’s attention. So, she is able to balance task and relation – she finishes the task in a reasonable time and also stimulates the child.

This woman focuses only on the relation, and she almost forgets that she has a task to do. On the other hand, this child learns a lot about concentration, joy, and human contact. So maybe she is the one who teaches the child most about how to be in a relation.


  • What is most important or necessary for you – how do you balance task and relations work in your foster care?
  • How do you balance task and relation in your own family? How did your parents do this?
  • How can you involve the child in what you are doing and interact with it at the same time? For example: instead of asking the child to wait while you do the laundry, let the child help you, and talk to it about how it feels and thinks, how school went today, etc.
  • How do you balance between “giving time and attention to one child” and “giving attention to all the children”? When you have more than one child, it might be difficult to decide how much attention to give to each child.
  • What can you do to make as much relations work as possible while you perform practical tasks?


  • Why are professional caregivers the most important people in the lives of placed children?
  • What is important when you focus on task work?
  • What is important when you focus on relations work?
  • What is difficult in doing both at the same time?
  • How can you combine them?


Reflect on how you can do relations work by organizing the daily activities in new ways:
  • Maybe you could divide your work in new and more efficient ways, so your children know where and when you are accessible to them.
  • Are there other daily activities in which you can include your children?

Here are a few suggestions for activities you can perform before moving on to Topic B:
Observe and write, or use your cell phone or a camera to record how you work with daily practical tasks. Discuss how you can relate to the children while you do the practical work. Notice and discuss how you may sometimes find practical work most important, and how you sometimes find relations work most important in various situations during the day.


“I don’t make any choice between dealing with children and performing a task anymore. At this session, I learned to do both of them at the same time. I’m relaxed and my child has fun, too. In this way, I can play games with them and they can hug me. In this way, they know that I would be with them whatever happens.”
Caregiver’s statement