March 23rd, 2010
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1109275_pensativeHaving a foster child in your home can be just as intimidating as it is for the foster child to be in a new home and a new environment. There will be a transitional period for everyone involved; that’s normal. But there are some simple and effective ways that can help make your foster child feel at home. Remember that each situation is different; find the method that works best for you, your foster child, and your situation.

Decorate: If you can, give your foster child his or her own personal space. Let him or her decorate it. Help your foster child decorate. You can use it as a bonding experience, and you’ll get to know your foster child more because you’ll be able to see his or her personality. Even if you can only spare one wall for him or her to paint and decorate, let your foster child be unique and express it. Encourage that.

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Discussion: When your foster child first arrives at your house—and once he or she has the time to get settled—have a frank discussion. Let your foster child know what you expect and need from him or her. Tell him or her about the house rules. After that, let your foster child talk to you about what they need and expect. Let your foster child talk about what he or she needs to talk about—whether that is about past experiences or current fears. It will show that you trust and respect your foster child. That is important for a healthy and efficient relationship.

Inclusion: Make sure that your foster child is included and invited to family events and get-togethers. Even if they decline each time, it is important to invite them nonetheless. It shows that you care for them and want them to be happy and comfortable with your family and in your household. Take some time to do activities that your foster child would like to do. Let your foster child plan a whole day of activities. And go through each of these activities with a positive attitude.

Helping your foster child feel at home in your house may not be easy, but it is worth the effort. Children deserved to be loved and provided for. You can be that for a foster child. You can provide the stability and concern that they currently need. Do what you can to make them feel that your house is their current home.

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4 Responses to “Helping Your Foster Child Feel At Home”

  1. irakirkley says:

    Things for addressing this topic.

    Another thing that might be neglected during this transition is the predominance of sensory processing issues in foster children. Many foster parents might feel compelled to offer bright and colorful decorations out of good intentions, but it might actually serve to create a more difficult environment for the child. Unfortunately, the child might even elect for an overstimulating room because they don’t understand the impact on their own neurology and behaviors.

    If a child comes with any possessions, I would recommend displaying those possessions proudly in the room. What seems like a symbol of abuse or neglect to a foster parent might serve as the only reminder of an albiet tumultuous home to a foster child.

    There’s nothing wrong with taking such transitions slowly. We are often much more eager to transition a child than the child, himself, is ready to be transitioned.

  2. Charlene says:

    Thanks, irakirkley, for your comment. I appreciate the time you took to read this blog post and to comment.

    I love your recommendation to display the child’s personal possessions proudly in his or her room. I think it’s important to encourage the child to preserve his or her dearest memories.

    You’re right. It is important to take the transition as slow as the foster parent or the foster child require.

    Thanks for your excellent points.

  3. Ira Kirkley says:

    Also, It’s been recommended not to clean or wash a child’s belongings that they bring into care for as long as possible. There are obvious limitations for clothes, but blankets and such can go much longer.

  4. Charlene says:

    Why is that, Ira? That’s quite interesting.

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