If you were a never a foster kid yourself, it can be difficult to fully understand what they go through. The comfort felt from simply being in your own home is something they may have never experienced. As a foster parent, it’s so important to create a safe, warm and welcoming environment for your foster children. A new living situation with people you’ve never met before can be a difficult thing to get acclimated to, but with the right environment, it will happen over time. Consider these 5 ways to help your foster children feel comfortable and at home.
Smile and Show Them Around
Welcome them with a warm smile. Though every child is different, it’s likely he or she will be slightly shy to start, so don’t be too intense. Keep a calm, grounded attitude while also expressing how happy you are to have them there. For smaller children, you may take their hand to guide them on the tour, while with older kids you may just place a hand on their shoulder for reassurance.
Have a Snack Ready
He or she is probably hungry but afraid to say anything, so there’s nothing more welcoming than having a snack ready for them when they arrive. Have a plate of chocolate chip cookies or some other treat to show them that they are at home. They may not eat right away, so don’t push it. Whether they eat or not, they’ll still know it’s there for them when they’re ready.
Get to Know Them
Start off by simply asking what they like to do. What kind of activities do they enjoy? Plan for some fun weekend activities that will help them feel integrated into your family. You might take them to a museum or to the park. Maybe they’ve always wanted to try a sport but have never had the opportunity. They might like art or drawing, so you could get them some supplies.
Be Clear, Not Demanding When it Comes to Rules
Though there are boundaries that need to be set, do so in a gentle way. Be clear about your expectations while not being aggressive or demanding. Treat your foster children with the respect you would like to receive from them in return. Give them no reason – based on your actions or attitude toward them – to make them feel like they need to act out or feel distrust toward you.
Give Them Time and Space
This transition will probably be a challenge for him or her, so give them plenty of time to get acclimated. Try to understand why they may feel uncomfortable in the situation – put yourself in their shoes. The best thing you can do is keep a positive outlook and create a welcoming home where they can blossom and succeed.