The teenage years can be difficult for any child, but they can be especially challenging for a foster child. As a foster parent, you may feel unsure of how to connect with your new teen. It is important to remember that as their primary adult in their life, you have the power to make a lasting impact on their lives. Here are some tips on how to build a strong connection with your teenage foster child.
Be Respectful and Understanding
It is important to remember that your foster child has likely been through unimaginable trauma in their young lives. Showing them respect and understanding is essential for building trust and creating an atmosphere of safety for them. Be mindful of their boundaries and encourage them to open up when they’re comfortable doing so. When they do share things about themselves or their past, listen actively and take what they say seriously. Validate their feelings when appropriate and remind them that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes.
Establish Rules and Expectations Together
Rather than setting strict rules about phone/technology use, relationships, chores and curfews prior to their arrival, come up with this list together. Sit down and have a conversation about what their expectations are in these areas; When they differ from yours, explain why other rules may be in their best interest and, as often as possible, come up with a compromise together.
Have Fun Together
It’s easy to get wrapped up in trying to meet all the challenges facing foster children without taking time out just to enjoy each other’s company. Find activities that you both enjoy such as going on hikes, playing board games, or volunteering together. Use this time together as an opportunity to talk about things outside of school or therapy sessions, like interests they have or more about their personality! These shared experiences will help create memories that will last long after your time as their foster parent has ended.
Bonding with a teenage foster child can seem intimidating at first but it doesn’t have to be! By being respectful, setting rules together, and having fun together, you can create a strong bond with your teenage foster child that will benefit both of you during this difficult period. Keep these tips in mind as you embark on this journey together! Good luck!
I'm a foster mom, bio mom, working mom, special needs mom, busy mom. I'm also married to my high school sweetheart, I'm a proud 23-year childhood cancer survivor, and I'm passionate about serving my community.
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