11 Tips for Forming Positive Connections with Foster ChildrenBy Angelica Malin
Many foster children come from troubled environments and need to form safe connections. Luckily, you’re in the perfect position to fulfil this need. Forming solid and positive bonds with foster children won’t always be easy, so you need to remain strong and never give up. Although it may take some time, there are things you can do to help the process along. To help you step in the right direction, we’ve gathered together the following eleven tips.
Trust is the bedrock of any positive relationship, and it needs to be earned. This can be challenging, especially if they come from a traumatic background. You can help build trust by sharing personal stories – an exclusive piece of information to make them feel like they’re trusted.
When caring for children that came to you from trauma, you may need additional support to form a trusting bond. In this case, we recommend switching to ISP Fostering, which focuses on therapeutic fostering. In this style of foster care, each child receives an individual treatment plan and you’ll become part of a therapeutic network of supportive adults.
Touch is often a powerful tool when it comes to establishing positive connections. However, you need to keep in mind that foster children may have had negative experiences, which is why we recommend communicating with your caseworker. That being said, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask if they would like a hug or have their hand held to show you care – even if you simply let them know you’re there when they’re ready.
Positive praise should be given in abundance. This doesn’t mean challenging behaviour should be endorsed but make a mountain of praise out of instances of positive behaviour. No matter how small the positive action, be sure to shower them with praise to improve their self-worth and confidence levels. This will also help to improve your connection.
Effective communication goes two ways, and your foster child will need to talk at times. To hold up your side of the conversation, make sure you listen whenever they need to speak. You may not fully understand what they’re feeling or where they’ve come from, but it’s your responsibility to respond to everything they say in an appropriate manner.
Having Time for Them
Foster children often feel isolated and alone, which is why it’s imperative to put plenty of time aside for them. This doesn’t just mean being present when they’re at home, it means spending quality time together. You can head outside for a walk, catch a movie, play a game, and so much more. No matter what you do together, we recommend keeping to a routine for the sake of stability.
Exercising will have plenty of benefits including improving your connection, alleviating stress, and being generally active. The activities you choose will look different depending on the child’s age. For example, young children will enjoy a walk around the park. Whereas a teenager or young adult can join you on a run or attend gym sessions. While you’re engaged in exercise, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to get in some much-needed communication.
Share a Book
Reading is a great way for you to bond with a foster child. Depending on their age, you can have them read sections to you as well, which will help improve their reading and comprehension. Have a conversation with your foster child and find out what they’d like to read. Alternatively, suggest reading an exciting series together, which will help them keep engaged in story time for a good while – we recommend Anthony Horowitz’s The Power of Five.
Your foster child is still learning about the world, so introduce them to new hobbies and activities that you can enjoy together. As well as this, you should make time to get stuck in with their favourite activities, whether this is drawing or painting. If you have older foster children, you can be more adventurous and head out rock climbing or skating.
By inviting your foster child into the kitchen, you can boost your connection and promote healthy eating. Have a conversation to find out what they want to cook – or bake – and go from there. This will likely be their favourite food, but it could be a giant cake for the whole family to enjoy. When it comes to promoting healthy eating, you can make meals more exciting by actively involving your foster child – depending on their age.
Playing games is fun for all ages, and there are countless different types to choose from. For example, you can get stuck into a board game, use your imagination, or plug in the game console. As well as strengthening your bond, you’re helping to create lasting memories for your foster children, which they’ll take away with them.
Monitoring Screen Time
There’s no harm in your foster child enjoying a spot of TV or playing video games, but there need to be restrictions in place. If they spend too much time glued to a screen, you’ll stand zero chance of building a positive relationship. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools that will limit usage past a set curfew. Additionally, you can install apps and software that will block certain types of content, which is essential in today’s digital age. If you wish to explore the top parental control tools, read this article.
Forming a positive connection is an important part of fostering, but it will take time and hard work to achieve. When you’re implementing the tips outlined above, make sure you’re tackling them together. For the most part, you can’t achieve one without the other – there’s no trust without listening and spending time together.