As a new foster parent, you may find bonding with your foster child challenging, but don’t worry, you will get there. Until then, here are some tips to help:
Before you overload your foster child with information about all the good things you can offer them and how things work around your home, it’s essential to listen to them. Sure, you can discuss what life is like being a member of your family and how they are part of it, too, but you need to open your ears to them first. Otherwise, you won’t be able to discover their interests, and you may overwhelm them.
However, please don’t force your foster child to discuss their life experiences. Many foster children have been through tough times and may not want to discuss what happened to them immediately. Instead, let them know that you are always there to talk to when and if they feel they want to.
Make Them Feel at Home
The majority of foster children feel anxious when they meet their foster carers for the first time. As the foster carer, you are responsible for finding ways to make this transition easier. One way you can do this is by making them feel at home.
If you are fostering in Dorset or another part of the UK, you will already know that foster children require their own room. This is their safe space where they can get away from everyday life. To make this space feel more like theirs, why not work with them to personalise it? You could add photos of their family, choose different bedding and accessories, and let them choose where they want the furniture to go. Doing these things will help them feel a sense of belonging.
Give Your Time
You may think building a strong connection with a foster child comes from fun days out and presents, but this isn’t the case. While these can help make your foster child happy, it’s not all about toys and sweet treats. The best way to establish a strong bond with your foster child is to spend time with them – whether that be sitting in front of the TV watching their favourite movie or eating dinner around the table.
Sit Down Together at Mealtimes
There really is no better place to bond with a foster child than over the dinner table. The dinner table is a wonderful place to discuss, as a family, what has happened during the day. It is also a great place to discuss any issues that may have occurred and find ways to overcome them. It is important to note, however, that mealtimes can be a challenge for children, especially if they have never experienced sitting at a dinner table or using cutlery. If your foster child does not want to join in at first, that’s okay.
Show That You Trust Them
Building a strong connection with your foster child involves a complex journey, especially for children who have experienced trauma. While trust is a crucial element, it may not be as straightforward as it sounds. Many foster children may have never felt trusted by an adult before, and their experiences have shaped their perception of trust. It’s essential to be patient, empathetic, and understanding of their unique needs and challenges as you work towards establishing a foundation of trust together.
Most foster carers find that they have to work on building a connection with their foster child; it doesn’t come instantly. If you’re struggling to connect with your foster child, try some of the tips above.