I thought I would write this because I’ve been asked a few times by people who are, or who are planning to become foster parents, so I offer some tips. I can only go by my own experience. As a kid in foster care I know what I wish mine had been like.
1,take it slow. For me there was nothing worse then going to a new home and being hugged cuddled and told I’m loved. (this might work with young kids) I use to be extremely uncomfortable when this would happen . I felt like I was the new puppy in the house. Where all attention was on me.
2,dont fake smiles. It was always creepy when a new foster parent would always be smiling. Be real
3,dont ask about our life story, you were told by social services or the fostering agency. Don’t push to find out more. When we feel ready we will talk
4,if we’re mean and break the rules we’re usually testing you. I use to put all my foster parents through this to see which ones would give up. Most did. Be different while also letting us know it’s not acceptable let us know that you won’t give up on us.
5,be clear on the rules and the consequences if they get broken. I was always confused because at each home there would be different rules and consequences. At one house it was okay to watch TV whenever you wanted, at another TV was off limits till after supper.
These small differences were huge to get over. If the kid genuinely forgets the new rule give a reminder before a consequence
6,be fair, if you have children already that are biologically yours don’t always choose sides if a fight erupts. We notice how much you do. Trust me your kids can also be in the wrong. While I would start some fights. Some were started by kids that lived in the house already. I would get the blame and It made me feel like I didn’t belong
7,dont be hard on yourself. If it’s taking longer then you thought to get through to a troubled teen. Don’t worry to much as long as you haven’t given up then you will get there.
8,dont set them up to fail. If you know this kid has been in trouble for stealing don’t leave money lying around. As a teen I would find money lying around and take it. It wasn’t about stealing I was still in survival mode. I figured if it was just lying there no one would miss it.
9,give praise often without sounding like it’s false. If the kid is good at something tell them they are. If they behaved well for a few hours let them know you noticed. Simple things like making their bed. Give them praise for. For most kids in foster care haven’t heard how good they are. They have usually heard the opposite. You have a chance to change a life by changing how a child feels about themselves. Use it
10,be yourself. Don’t come the heavy and don’t come on soft. Just be you. Trust me we notice. When we do come to you. And ask advice don’t make everything a lecture. Give your advice and drop it.