What to Do the First Time a Foster Child Comes to Stay With Us?
When a foster child enters a new home for the first time, it can be daunting, especially if they’ve experienced any traumas. That’s why you want to make your home as welcoming and comfortable as possible before your foster child arrives, to make the process a lot easier for them.
There are many benefits of fostering a child, but preparing for their arrival can be overwhelming. However, in this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to fully prepare for your foster child’s first stay.
Prepare Your Home
The first task you should perform is to prepare your home for your foster child. Preparing your home involves turning it into a welcoming environment and making sure it’s safe for your foster child. Bake cookies, place flowers and plants around your home, clean up, and add some color to liven up the space.
Create a Welcoming Bedroom
Your foster child will most likely spend most of their time in their bedroom, so you want to create a comfortable space for them. For example, you could decorate it with neutral, calming tones, and once your child has settled into your home, you could make them choose specific bedroom items that they might enjoy. Also, make sure their bedroom includes a space where they can store their belongings.
Due to past traumas that your foster child may have, they might throw tantrums or have sudden outbursts of anger. So, keeping the bedroom free from expensive furniture and breakable items will help keep it safe during a meltdown.
Store Away Medications
A crucial part of making your home a safe setting for your foster child is storing away all medications and vitamins. Your foster child might be curious to look around and peek into places, and the last thing you want is for them to get their hands on meds. So you can either lock them away inside a medicine box or choose to store them in a cabinet where they’ll be out of reach.
Give Them a Tour
Once your foster child arrives, remember to be patient. Each child will react differently. Some will want to open up and receive affection immediately, and others might take a while to ease up to you.
For them to feel comfortable in an unknown environment, giving them a proper tour of the house will help ease their nerves. Pay attention and see whether your foster child prefers to sit down and have a meal first before the tour.
While showing your foster child your home, make it clear what areas of the house are off-limits without supervision to avoid any possible safety hazards. If you have children of your own, allow them to join your house tour to help your foster child feel included and so they can start bonding. Assure your foster child that they have the liberty to use certain devices or items, such as the television or the computer.
You want your child to feel that your home is now their home. It’ll help them feel that they are able to fit in and belong, which might be a new sensation for them.
Have Some Food Ready
Foster children are often hungry when they first arrive at a new home. Have some kid-friendly snacks prepared for them and offer if they’d like to munch on something. Sometimes, foster children might reject at first because they’re shy or intimidated.
So, in this case, try not to overwhelm them. If your foster child looks hungry but is hesitant, leave the snacks at hand and let them know they’re free to eat whenever they please.
Keep Them Informed
Throughout your foster child’s first day at your home, you want to keep them informed of everything that will happen next so that they won’t feel unoriented or confused. This will also help them know what routines and schedules are established in your household.
Not only should you inform them of things but also, ask your foster child what they’re comfortable with and give them the chance to have a say in your plans. For instance, if dinner is about to be ready, you could say, “Dinner will be ready soon, so would you like to watch TV before we all sit down at the table?” Or, “Would you rather watch some TV after dinner?”
Maintaining this communication with your foster child will help them gain a sense of control and security.
Yes, you want to make your foster child feel comfortable and free to do what they want. However, in order to keep everyone safe, especially your new family member, you need to make the rules clear. Set the general and basic rules on the first day, such as screen-time, mealtime behavior, or certain responsibilities.
Figure out if they have any doubts or concerns about what they can and can’t do. And if they struggle to understand why you’ve set certain rules, lovingly explain the reason why you have them.
Respect Their Privacy
Because this a new experience for both you and your foster child, you might have the urge to be constantly on their back, making sure they’re ok at all times. Yet, you don’t want to stress your foster child and make them feel like they’re being watched every second of the day.
Give them the appropriate amount of privacy. Don’t follow them to the bathroom unless they ask, knock on the door before entering into their bedroom, and allow for them to change on their own.
Your foster child might be scared of the idea of sleeping in an entirely different home and a new bed. Make bedtime as soothing as possible to help them transition well. For example, leave any lights on that they might need, read them bedtime stories, give them any stuffed animals and if necessary, keep them company until they fall asleep.
If your foster child is older, you can give them the choice to read or draw or even do a puzzle before going to sleep. Allow them to listen to soothing music or play with a toy until they’re ready to go to bed.
Be Patient with Your Foster Child
Your foster child has most likely gone through a tough time, and you’ll have to be as patient and understanding as possible. They might not behave or react the way you expect them to but, place yourself in their footsteps and try to see things from their point of view. Empathizing with their emotions will help you to face the situation well and give your foster child a comfortable setting to live in.
Are you ready to start caring for a foster child? Contact us today. We’ll help you through the entire process and clear up any concerns you may have.