Ways to Help a Teenage Foster Child Settle
Fostering is a fantastic thing to do for children that can have many benefits for you and your household, as well as the children that you welcome into your home. But it’s challenging. Making children feel welcome in a strange new house can be difficult, but if you want to enjoy family life together, then helping children to settle in and making sure that they feel safe is essential. As parents, we often worry about parenting babies and young children, only to find that it’s once our children have entered their teenage years that the real challenges start. This is no different with foster children. It can be harder to bond with teenagers, and they might find it much harder to settle into your home. Here are some tips to help you.
There are many ways that you can prepare to welcome a foster child. What is foster care is a question you should find the answers to if this is your first placement, or you are considering fostering for the first time. You should speak to your case worker and learn as much about the child that’s due to be placed with you as you can. You should also spend some time preparing their room and making sure they have got everything that they need to feel at home.
Get to Know Them
Teenagers will respect you more if you treat them as an individual, take the time to get to know them, and take an interest in their likes, dislikes, hobbies, and friends. Ask them questions about themselves and listen when they talk to you. Take an interest, and you’ll be rewarded with more open communication.
Give Them Privacy
Teenagers like their own space and privacy. It can be tempting to stick with them all of the time, especially if you are worried about low mood, or that they aren’t happy with you. But pressing them will just make them close off even more. Make sure they have their own bedroom, that they know they can add personal touches, and that you give them privacy and space when they need it.
Don’t Treat Them Like a Child
Teenagers aren’t children, and you shouldn’t treat them like they are. But, at the same time, even older teens sometimes find comfort in more childish things, especially when they are somewhere new. So, while you should respect privacy, and avoid speaking to them like a child, don’t be surprised if they embrace activities like crafts, or baking, or even if they find comfort in sharing a story, or holding a teddy bear.
Plan Some Fun Activities
Having activities planned can help a child of any age to settle. Start with things like movie afternoons and baking at home, that won’t overwhelm them, and then start to enjoy things like family walks, and activities in your local area. With teenagers, it can help to invite a friend from school along too, or even offer to drop them off and pick them up.
Establish a Routine
A routine is a great way to help anyone adjust to a new home. Try to establish things like mealtimes, bedtimes, and time that you spend doing things together, but give them some freedom too.
Adapting to life with a teenager can be tough for you too. Remember to take some time for yourself and get support from the foster carers’ community if you need it.