The uncertainty foster children experience can be difficult, even if they are used to the displacement, with constant moves from one living situation to the next. Although their stay is only temporary, there are a number of small things families can do that can have a big impact in making kids feel welcome and comfortable while they’re there.
Keep It Clean
It may seem obvious that one should tidy up before welcoming someone into the home, but the reasons why may not be as apparent. Regardless of where they came from, moving a foster child into a messy, chaotic living space can cause them anxiety and unease. When everything in a home is out of place, it’s easy for foster children to feel out of place too. Making a concerted effort to declutter before the upcoming arrival of a child not only has the ability to make them feel more comfortable, but it also offers up more space for their belongings, and creates a sense of organization that allows routines (and ultimately, life,) to flow more smoothly – something foster children are in great need of.
Make It Personal
Even if you don’t have the time, budget or creativity for a home decor project, adding a few small personal touches in a place that is just for them can be quite meaningful. Find out as much as possible about their likes and (such as their favorite colors, characters, animals, etc.) and try to include those things into their room. Or, ask them to pick out a few things after they’ve already arrived. If you prefer to keep the room where they’ll be staying a blank slate, simply create a welcome basket for them with items like books, blankets, snacks, clothes, toys, tailored to their age range and whatever you’re able to find out about their interests to make them feel welcome. Including pieces of them, like photos, school artwork or report cards throughout the house after they’ve settled in can help them feel a sense of home and belonging.
Give A Choice
As a parent, providing structure and authority for children is important, but it’s also necessary to give them choices. Often trapped in situations out of their control, it’s beneficial for foster children to be allowed some sense of empowerment in being able to make certain decisions for themselves, even if those decisions are seemingly inconsequential. Give your foster child a few different options and allow them to choose from them when it comes to what to eat for dinner on certain nights, what to watch on family movie night, or even which household chores they want to help out with. By considering their opinions and honoring their wishes on certain things, they will feel respected, valued and included as a member of the family.
For more information about foster care services or foster care issues, contact us at (618) 688 – 4727.