How to Help a Foster Child Adjust

It can be difficult to know how best to help a foster child adjust to a new living situation. They might be in a bit of shock at suddenly living in a new place. Or they might be hesitant to open up to you. However, you can set yourself up for success by remembering to be as flexible as you can be. Have things ready in advance before they get to their new home so that you aren’t scrambling to find the basics. Keep the lines of communication open, but let them have their space if they need it. Be flexible and manage your expectations. And finally, be their parent, not their friend. Hopefully, you can form an amazing bond with your foster child that will enrich their lives forever.

How to Help a Foster Child Adjust to a New Family

Have Things Ready

The first thing to do to help a foster child adjust to a new family is to have all the basics ready in advance. While the foster agency will do a home check to make sure you have the essentials like a bed, it’s also nice to prep with a few other things. Have age-appropriate snacks and treats, pajamas, clothing in the correct size, and some toys ready for when they arrive. That way you won’t be scrambling to find the basics when they get there.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Another thing you can do to help a foster child adjust is to keep the lines of communication open. Older children might want some space and time alone to adjust to their new surroundings. Even if this is the case, make it clear that you’re available if they need to talk about anything. Give them some space, but check-in enough to make sure they know that you are taking care of them.

Be Flexible

It can help a foster child adjust to a new environment if foster parents are flexible. Each child is very different with very different needs. Try to erase your expectations or past experiences and be open to a fresh start with every child you foster. What worked for one child may not work for another. Reset your expectations and understand that some children come into the system with emotional baggage that can make them react to things in unexpected ways. Try to meet every kid at their level and their own needs.

Be Their Parent, Not Their Friend

Finally, one last thing that can help a foster child adjust to a new living situation is if you make it clear that you are their parent, and not their friend. Of course, you want them to trust you and come to you with problems. But you can do this while still maintaining authority. Make it clear that you have their best interests at heart and that you care deeply about them. But also make it clear that they have to be respectful of you and your family’s rules. It can be hard to know exactly how to help a foster child adjust to a new living environment. So much has probably changed for them that they might feel overwhelmed. You might be given very little notice and feel a little overwhelmed. This is why it’s important to keep some things on hand, like snacks, a few clothing sizes, and some toys for various ages. Open the lines of communication with them, but give them space if they need it. Just make sure to check in periodically. Be flexible and manage your expectations. Remember that everybody’s journey in the foster program is very different. And finally, make sure that you are an authority figure. Often the structure of a parent figure is exactly what can be the most beneficial to many children in the foster care system. Hopefully, you and your foster child can build a beautiful relationship together and you can be a real source of comfort for them in a time that might otherwise be very stressful.