If you’re struggling in connecting with foster children that are new to your family, try not to worry. It’s more than likely that your new addition has been going through a lot lately, which means it may take them a while to warm up to you initially. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a wide variety of things you can do to help build that bond, and create that emotional connection.
Learn our top 10 ways of connecting with foster children that can help your foster child feel like one of the family, and establish that much-needed trust.
Connecting with Foster Children – The How
A child or young person may feel shy, nervous, which will cause them to become unable to communicate with you in the way you’d expect at first. Bear in mind though, this is completely normal. It’s all about creating foster relationships between your family and your new foster child, as well as establishing the trust needed that will allow them to open up.
Here are 10 foster care tips that will help you emotionally connect with your new foster child:
Make Time for Them
Arguably, this is one of the most important foster care tips when it comes to building a strong bond between yourself, and your foster child. Just make time for them, and we don’t mean just be around when they’re home from school, or eat dinner together.
If you want to build a strong foster family bond, it’s vital that you allocate time for quality bonding. This can be something as simple as watching a movie together, or doing some fun DIY activities. Creating time for them through the simple things in life can be a great way to connect with a foster child and build a strong and long-lasting relationship.
Listening Is Key
Effective communication with a foster child isn’t just one-sided. At the end of the day, they’re going to need to communicate with you too, and that can come by simply just listening when they want to talk. It may be hard to hear exactly what goes on in their mind and the troubles they experienced in their past, but it’s important to listen and respond in an appropriate way. Let them know you’re here, and that they can confide in you.
A very important aspect you’re going to need to achieve when it comes to connecting with foster children is trust. This isn’t built easily, and it doesn’t come quickly. It’s going to take some time, but there are a few things you can do to try and speed up the process. A good foster care tip is to maybe try to tell them something about yourself, something personal that will show them you trust them. Of course, make sure they can’t use this against you in difficult times. You can also try to earn their trust by letting them do things on their own; like use a computer, walk the dog. Small things like this will help them to realize they are trusted, and in turn, they’ll hopefully trust you too.
Praise, praise, and even more praise! There’s definitely going to be some behaviour that you’re going to find challenging, and ones that you should definitely not positively reinforce. However, when they do demonstrate positive behaviour, make sure you reward them. By doing this, they will not only learn how best to control their behaviour, but will also see that you are willing to praise them for things they did well. With this, you’ll be positively impacting their confidence and self-worth, whilst also building a strong bond and a better relationship.
Activities to Encourage Connecting with Foster Children
Cooking is fun! Whether it’s their favourite meal, some cookies and cakes for the whole family, or creative cooking to see what you come up with – doing it together can be a fantastic way to bond. Not only does it provide your foster child with a good foster family bonding experience, but they will also be more willing to communicate in this type of environment as opposed to a face-to-face chat.
Depending on the age of the new addition to the family, you can read to them, or even get them to read to you. This activity enhances their reading skills, improves their literature, and can also be a great way to connect with foster children.
Share a Hobby
This is a fantastic way to communicate with your foster child. Either aim to share a hobby each week, or even once a month. Either way, make sure it’s something you both enjoy. Dig deep and understand exactly what it is they like to do. It could be something simple like painting or drawing. Or, maybe you have an adrenaline junkie on your hands and they love rock-climbing or ice skating!
This foster care tip all really depends on the age of your foster child. It’s much easier to share a hobby with a teenager or young adult than it would be a young child.
Exercising is a great way to keep them fit, active, and build healthy habits. But it also comes with other benefits. The main one – connecting with foster children is easy if you’re both nearly passing out whilst on a run. Of course, once again, this is all dependent on age.
If you have a young foster child, then you can take them out for walks in the park, football in the garden, or even take them swimming. This is a great way to bond and keep them active. If your foster child is a teenager or young adult, try peace exercises like yoga, meditation, or even countryside walks.
Play Games to Encourage Connecting with Foster Children
Whether it’s on the PlayStation 5, 4, or Xbox 360, One, or whatever else is out nowadays – if your young adult that is part of your foster family has a love for gaming – join them! You’ll be surprised at how much fun you can actually have gaming together.
Again, if you have a young child, throw the ball around the garden, play board games, take part in some imaginative play. All truly great ways to bond with your foster child. With this, you’re not only building a strong relationship, but you’re also creating memories they can hold onto and cherish for a lifetime.
So, now you’ve learnt how to connect with foster children and build a strong foster family, you may be wondering how you’re able to get started. If you have never experienced fostering but would like to, we highly recommend it.
Interested? Get in touch with our expert team at Apple Fostering, and let’s get this show on the road.