Develop the Best Relationship with Your Foster Child
Developing a positive relationship with a foster child is the key to the success of your fostering experience. Psychologists suggest that all children need two things above all else – love and boundaries.
The first of these promote a positive sense of self-worth, the second provides a sense of security.
Loving a child takes many forms. With a foster child it may be more practical in the earliest days as you get to know each other. It would be a mistake to smother a foster child.
When fostering a child you may notice that children are often, quite rightly, wary of trusting new people in their lives.
Their experiences to date may have involved becoming attached to someone and then being moved on.
The pain of not having a parent caring from them may make them withdrawn.
You must let the child decide when they are ready to make that trusting move. Instead, love can be expressed by letting the child know you care, treating them with respect, allowing them space, providing nourishing food and a warm safe place to sleep.
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Foster children need to feel a sense of belonging before they can begin to relax, so taking them to choose a new toy or some new pyjamas or bedding might help cement them to their new home. They need above all to feel secure and cared for.
Things that bring foster children closer to you are simple things, such as trips out to the playground, meeting them from school or watching children’s TV with them. Anything that brings you into a positive space where you can be beside each other and share your lives.
If you have other children, show the child how you treat all of your children in the same way, including the foster child. Try to show no favors in either direction or your foster child will start to feel like one of the family before too long.
Hand in hand with love are boundaries, which a simply another way of expressing care. Children who have no boundaries become anxious and confused. By not providing boundaries for children, adults are expecting a child to take responsibility for them the whole time.
This is frightening and disconcerting for children, who will often misbehave more and more simply in order to find the ‘edges’ of their world.
They are usually pleased to find those edges and feel more relaxed and secure when they do, no matter how much they complain. Boundary setting is another way of showing love and it does not go unnoticed with children, even if it is only at a subconscious level.
If a parent does not care what a child does, then they do not care about the child.
Therefore, do not be afraid to set bedtimes, limit computer exposure, and enforce tooth brushing, table clearing and homework rules.
All these little things add up to create a framework for a foster child, within which he or she can safely operate.
Fostering a child is seldom plain sailing, but it is always fascinating to watch a child come out of their shell and relax with their foster career.
The first time they reach out to you in trust is a wonderful moment.