A foster child is usually nervous about joining a new family. They’re not sure how they’ll be received and if they’ll feel welcome and valued. Parents that want to ensure the foster transition goes smoothly can utilize some tips from BCFS Health and Human Services RSD, a nonprofit organization that helps transition foster kids into homes and onto adulthood. The organization offers eight tips for parents to make a foster child feel special and loved:
- Give them Their Own “Stuff”
Foster kids naturally consider the things in a new home to belong to the parents and the other family members. It’s important to provide them with their own things so they feel valued and incorporated into the family unit. This could include toiletries, a fresh set of pajamas, a night light, even a goodie basket of snacks.
- Help them Unpack and Settle In
In addition to needing ownership over their things, kids also want to feel they have a private space. Parents can help by unpacking the child’s clothes and personal items (with the child’s permission of course) and folding them neatly in a dresser or closet.
- Let them Decide Names
Give foster kids some flexibility around how they refer to their new parents and foster siblings. If they want to go with the formal Ms. or Mr. or use first names, allowing them some choice is very empowering.
- Note their Accomplishments
As a foster child acclimates to a new home and starts participating in school and other activities, it’s important to recognize their successes. The average family home displays awards and report cards on the refrigerator or on a board, and including the foster child in this activity is a great way to boost their confidence.
- Make their Favorites
New foster kids might be shy about expressing their food likes and dislikes. Maybe they hate onions but were too polite to say anything. Talk to the child about foods they enjoy, and then be sure those meals are on the weekly rotation.
- Snap and Hang Some Pics
A foster child will smile from ear-to-ear if they see their framed photo next to the foster parent’s biological family photos.
- Allow them to Make their Space Their Own
Foster kids can increase their comfort in a home if they’re able to add personal touches. This could include hanging artwork in their room or other creative outlets.
- Include them in Decision Making
Kids of all ages like to be heard and valued. Asking foster kids their thoughts about what the family should make for dinner or if they should go biking or walking in the evening is a good way to give them a voice.