Creating a strong bond with a foster child is essential for nurturing emotional development and strengthening overall well-being, but doing so often isn’t straightforward. Foster children come from all types of backgrounds, which may present obstacles to overcome.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a short guide for building strong connections with foster children.
Maintaining Support During Transition Periods
All foster children enter the system on a short-term basis, but arriving with a foster family marks a significant transition that can be overwhelming and scary. During this transition, it’s essential to be supportive and work to build a strong bond. When it’s time for your foster child to move on, whether it’s back to their family or onto one of the other types of fostering, it’s important to maintain support and be a constant.
Establishing Trust and Emotional Stability
Foster children go through a variety of negative experiences including neglect, abuse, and other traumas, which can make trusting new people difficult. Establishing trust and emotional stability is vital for creating a supportive and safe environment where they can feel at ease and thrive. You can build trust and emotional stability by being consistent, showing empathy, actively listening, and being open and honest.
Engaging in Shared Activities and Interests
Sharing activities and interests with your foster children is a fantastic way to strengthen connections. Not only does it help them feel included, it helps them feel valued, seen, and understood. When you share in activities they find enjoyment in, you’re making it clear that you care and want to spend time with them. Here are some activities you can share:
- Outdoor exploration
- Playing games
- Watching movies/TV
There is no limit to what activities you can do together, just make sure they’re age-appropriate and fun for everyone involved.
Celebrating Strengths and Fostering Self-Esteem
Every child has unique talents and strengths, and it’s important to recognise and celebrate them. While this is true of all children, it’s even more important for foster children because they may not have been encouraged in the past. You can identify and celebrate strengths in the following ways:
- Encourage participation in activities. When children engage in activities they enjoy, it allows them to show off their talents and receive recognition.
- Listen and observe. Pay attention to foster children’s skills, interests, and accomplishments. Engage in meaningful conversations to understand areas of expertise and passions.
- Create a portfolio of achievements. Help your foster child document their accomplishments, from academic achievement to athletic feats. When they leave your care, this portfolio acts as a tangible reminder of their abilities.
- Provide specific praise. Steer clear of generic compliments and turn your attention to specific examples of their strengths.
Creating an environment built on strong connections is essential for making foster children feel supported, valued, and cared for. Remember, every child is unique and has individual strengths that must be celebrated. As long as you are patient, understanding, and consistent with your approach, you will build strong connections with any child in your care.