There are many benefits to fostering a teen. There are plenty of rewarding milestones to be part of, including watching them grow into adulthood, seeing them head off to college and supporting them through graduation.
Many foster children feel vulnerable when arriving in a new home. Teenagers may even feel more vulnerable, so helping them ease into their new surroundings and making them feel comfortable is one of the most important steps.
To help your child adapt to their new home, don’t overwhelm them with changes, be understanding of their feelings, and set limitations on certain activities.
Take small steps to success
Making minor changes in your teen’s life can improve trust and help build a child’s self-esteem. Creating good habits, even as simple as regular household chores, can go a long way to giving your child responsibilities.
When you’re trying to help a foster child adapt, it is important not to make numerous changes too quickly. People may react poorly to change, so be sure to make the changes incremental. Also, by rewarding them for doing well, you can help them make the right decisions in their future.
Be mindful of feelings
Teenagers are especially sensitive to criticism. Always structure your feedback in a way that does not feel like a personal attack. No one likes to be threatened, so be constructive and make a point without being insulting or demeaning. If you have been wronged, it can be helpful to state how the incident made you feel without personalizing their behaviour.
While constructive feedback is a useful tool, there are extra steps you should take with foster children. Empathy and compassion are important.
While you should include your foster child in family activities, don’t force them to do something they’re not comfortable doing. Teenagers thrive on independence, and they should be given options.
Set limitations and restrictions
It’s important to set boundaries from the start. Some teenagers use strong language and inappropriate behaviours to express how they feel. The last thing any teen needs or expects is an angry confrontation.
Ensure the teenager has had time to adjust to your foster home before you start making rules. They have been moved from their home to a brand-new environment and getting used to your home could take time.
As a foster parent, you will also be in contact with your foster child’s case manager, teachers, legal personnel, birth family, and more. Managing these relationships can give you important insight into your foster child that may help you establish a healthy relationship.