Welcoming a foster child into your family comes with challenges. You might be struggling to create an emotional connection with them. However, you shouldn’t be too worried. Your foster child has likely been through a lot, so it may take time for them to warm up to you. But there are several things you can do to help encourage that connection. Below are 10 effective ways of communicating with foster children to gain their trust and help them feel like one of the family.
How to connect with your foster child
At first, it may be hard for a foster child to communicate with you in the way you’d like, but this is normal. It’s all about establishing trust and creating emotional relationships between the foster child and your family. Here are ten tips to connect with your foster child’s emotions:
How to Build an Emotional Connection with Your Foster Child
Make time for them
The most important thing you should do when trying to build an emotional connection with your foster children is to make time for them. This is more than just being at home when they arrive from school, or having dinner together. Make time for quality bonding, like watching a movie or starting an art project together. Intentionally spending time with them, preferably at the same time each day or each week to establish a routine, is a great way to build up your connection with your foster child.
Effective communication is always two-way. If you want your foster child to communicate with you too, make sure to really listen to them when they talk. It can be hard to know what’s going on in their mind or to fully understand the traumas they have encountered before coming into your home, but as a foster parent, you must – listen and respond appropriately. This can help make them feel like they can trust you and that you’re always there to listen when they need someone to talk to.
One of the keys to establishing a relationship with your foster children is to establish trust between you. Trust doesn’t come easily, especially for someone who has had a traumatic past and struggles with trust issues. Gaining your foster child’s trust will take time, but there are a few things you can do to make the process easier for them. Make them feel that you trust them by telling them something personal about you, but be careful not to disclose something they can use against you when a difficult time arises. You could also show that you trust them by allowing them to do certain things like using the computer on their own or walking the dog around the block. These things will help them realize that you trust them and hopefully, they will return the trust too.
Appropriate physical touch
Physical contact can enhance your emotional connection with your foster child. Kids and teens will have had different experiences with physical contact so ask your foster care agency in Colorado or Social Worker for their advice on this. If appropriate, give your foster children hugs and hold their hands to let them know you’re there. Appropriate physical contact can make them feel that they are secure with you, and eventually let you in.
Your foster child may have had traumatic experiences of physical contact, and it may be a long process before they get comfortable with it again, so always involve your social worker. Let them know you’re willing to wait until they’re ready so you can build up their trust. Just keep in mind that they may initially reject physical contact, so try to start small like touching their hand, or putting a hand on their shoulder so you can gauge how they receive it.
Be generous with praise
Reward your foster child with praise every time they display positive behavior. And while there are challenging behaviors that should not be encouraged, you should attempt to understand them. That way, they’ll learn how to control the way they talk and act. When they see that you’re willing to praise them for good behavior, it will have a positive impact on your relationship. Receiving praises for even their smallest achievements will provide a significant boost to your foster child’s confidence and self-worth.
Activities you can do with your foster child
Cooking is a great bonding activity you can do with your foster child. Whether it’s their favorite dish, a chocolate cake for the whole family, or experimental cooking, the activity can teach your foster child a sense of responsibility, how to follow instructions, as well as give you a chance to spend a relaxing and fun time together. It may also be easier for them to talk when you are seated side by side than when you are face to face, so they may be more willing to communicate while you are in the kitchen preparing something.
You can read to your foster child or get them to read to you, depending on their age. This not only enhances their reading skills and improves their literature, but can also be a great way to bond. Let them choose a book series they like, such as Harry Potter, so they can enjoy the activity and you have something to do together until you’ve finished reading the entire series.
Share a hobby
Another great way to connect with your foster child is to share a hobby that you can both enjoy. You can do it once a week or once a month, as long as you consider what they genuinely would like to do. This could be as simple as painting or drawing, or something a little more adventurous like riding the bike, or ice skating. It’s easier to share a hobby with a teenage foster child, so this would be a great way to connect with this group age.
Exercising is a great way to get your foster child moving, and also to connect with them. If you have a young foster child, the exercise can include walks in the park, football in the garden, or swimming. For teenagers or young adults, this can be yoga, running, or attending fitness classes.
Play games together
Every child loves to play games. Whether it’s a computer game, board game, or imaginative play, you and your foster child will surely create a connection. Besides building your relationship, you also create memories they can cherish and look back on when they grow older.
Fostering a Child in Colorado
Now that you’ve learned useful techniques to connect and communicate with your foster children, you might be wondering how else you can be of help to a foster child. If you’re interested in fostering a child in Colorado, get in touch with Courage Community Foster Care today at 719.321.4319. We are located at P.O Box 262 Cascade, CO 80809.