It might cost you a little to be a foster mother or father, but the process of becoming one is quite lengthy. You need persistence as time goes by since it will take 4-12 months to become a qualified foster parent. Apart from what do you need to be a foster parent that includes applying, training and saying yes to a home study, there are essential skills you need to learn in the process so that you present the best interests to the kid.
As you work hard to give foster children a home they did not get due to various circumstances, here are essential skills to deploy as you look forward to how to become foster parents.
Table of Contents
- Is It Hard to Become A Foster Parent?
- Tips for Foster Parents in Helping Children to Adjust
- Fostering Children: How Do You Foster A Child
Is It Hard to Become A Foster Parent?
1) Making room for child’s adjustment
After you receive a child needing foster care, the foster challenges begin. It takes time for them to adjust and get used to your routine or the approach you are using to make everything familiar. Here is what you might witness as you progress:
- Attempting to run away
- Testing the set rules and guidelines
- Overeating or undereating
- Being extremely quiet and timid
- Problems getting ahead in school
You might notice one or more of the behavioral difficulties right after placement or later after a week or two. What you need to know is having the best skills to make them feel comfortable and work closely with your social worker whenever you see something unusual.
2) Much Patience
It is an essential skill that cultivates on how to be a good foster parent. Remember that this is a new face in a new household, so you need to hold on until they finally get used to it. Your wife, husband, kids and the neighboring friends will also take time to understand so, don’t feel rejected if they don’t offer immediate support. The foster child just came into a new life which is different from what he or she had before. Your house has already adapted to both written and unwritten rules that govern the way things should be done. So, the new child will take time to adjust. If you need to change some things, they will also need time to familiarize with what is happening around them. If there is no support from others, you need more patience than those who are receiving aid from various sources.
In most cases, children in foster care try to cope with the many challenges that come as a result of physical and emotional abuse. That is what will make them not to feel free to communicate since their self-esteem is shuttered. You, on the other hand, have some high expectations for the child such as liking your home since you are creating a safe environment, opposite of the hostility. This might not be the case after some time, and it may cause frustration among other disappointment-related issues.
That is why you need as much patience as you can allow. It is a delicate situation that requires dedication and proving your unconditional love for the child.
He or she is a foster child who meets many people to guide the young life. There are caseworkers, judges, lawyers, therapists, CASA agents – all of who are responsible for making sure that the child’s needs are taken care of. What these people do is out of their thinking and analysis, but they don’t know what you had seen when the child was under your care. That is why you must stand up to speak for the child whenever you feel that something is misinterpreted.
As you do so, remember your family too. If you feel that you are handling more on your plate than you should, feel free to communicate or ask for help. At times, you can also feel uncomfortable with your current placement. If that is the case, go ahead and air your feelings about it and stick to it. Don’t allow for overwhelming duties since they will only burn down your motivation and sacrifice.
4) Good communication skills
We earlier highlighted foster children have low self-esteem. Good foster parents should be aware of this and be able to formulate a way of talking that will make the child open up and communicate about their inner feelings. Foster care challenges might cause the child to hold back but having the ability to talk about themselves creates an appropriate therapy session for them to grow emotionally. As a foster parent, you must encourage children to speak even when the circumstances are not that friendly. Your skills in making it possible will help you in knowing how to communicate appropriately with kids that are not yet used to you.
Gaining better communication skills extends to your family since you will be able to talk when times are difficult between them and the foster child. By doing so, you attain emotional fulfillment in the whole foster care activity.
Some foreign children need much caution on how you address their issues. You approach on how you discipline them matters a lot and will give you marks on how to foster a child. Here are some points to consider as you ponder the best move to contain bad behavior:
- The methods you use for discipline must be within the licensed regulations and prevent extreme measures such as hitting, spanking or meals denial. It should also not be humiliating or harsh.
- The methods you use must fit your style and be sure that you can use the same for your kids without causing damage to the already established relationship.
- The mode of punishment should be within the child’s age bracket and fit for the mistake done.
- You have to be fair, consistent and reasonable at all times whenever an indiscipline issue arises.
- Your intention should be oriented toward promoting good behavior rather than punishing for wrongdoing. Take time to go back to the kid and talk it through.
We are not advocating for a particular disciplining style. However, if you are short of ideas especially when it comes to foster children, there are books, DVDs, videos among other sources that offer useful approaches to handling behavioral problems. All in all, remember that you want to maximize on good discipline.
6) Being resilient during hard times
There is a need for foster parents to work more than hard. If you are in the system, then you know what we mean. The work is sometimes hard to bear, and it will break you and make you at the same time. There are scenarios such as a child you liked so much coming back, or a decision is made, and it’s not what you need for him or her. Other times, you are searching for answers and what comes is nothing easy or not your favorite solution at all not to mention the kid.
Being resilient as you foster does not mean becoming concrete when things are not going your way but to have the heart and courage to do it over again despite the difficulty.
7) Adapting to foster care
The easier it is for you to be flexible to various situations, the easier it will be for you to take care of the immediate needs of the needy child. There are medical and emotional issues to attend to among others, and they are bound to disrupt your usual routine. You have to forgo all those social functions that will collide with your duties since you have a new and vital commitment on your hands. At times, the change of schedule could be abrupt so, are you ready to change at the last minute?
Adapting will help you bond better and also be able to say goodbye when it’s time for the child to leave.
This is a skill that can be obvious to you or not. It is an inward feeling to be portrayed outside, but you can also choose to love or not. Most of the time, it requires you to act rather than keep the emotions to yourself. So, it’s possible for you to learn how to love the foster kids you receive.
Love will keep you going when times are tough, and that is when it becomes vital. It is what most foster parents will reveal as what makes everything worth it.
9) Keeping it confidential
Now that you will have a new child in the neighborhood, those around you will have many questions about the new arrival. Being a foster parent, it is okay to feel that you don’t have to answer to anyone, but you cannot be quiet at the same time. At times, you are not sure about how well you should answer the question, “Who is this?”
Whichever way you choose to answer, it is to the best interests of the child not to disclose personal information about them. Anything about their past or the future is for you, the child and the social worker involved so, what the authorities give you should help you mentor and work with the kid with no disclosure to others outside the circle. It is not only unfair to speak about it but also against the law, so be careful.
Some situations force you to reveal some crucial information about the foster child. You might be working with a therapist, doctor or the school. At such a point, if you don’t know what to say, ask the social worker about which information should be disclosed and what should go unsaid.
Tips for Foster Parents in Helping Children to Adjust
Since there are many aspects to consider when raising a foster child, you need to know how to go about it during the first few months and years as he or she continues to stay. Here are some ideas on how you can make the child feel at home:
- Welcome the child warmly and quietly.
- Help them get familiar with the routine.
- Let him, or her know how to refer to you. If they are not in for the ‘mother’ or ‘dad’ thing, you can provide a choice that you can both agree on.
- Let them know the rules available and how to enforce them.
- Don’t feel awkward if the child does not respond to you when you need them to.
- Give them a chance to talk about their past if they need to but do not press into the issues if it seems challenging to outlay some more in-depth scenarios.
- Help the child to gain pride and a sense of confidence by having him or her do what they like or can do.
- Give applause whenever they achieve something meaningful by recognizing their ability.
- Refrain from punishment modes that humiliate or are harsh on the kid. Mainly, avoid corporal punishment.
- Talk to your social worker about the child or go to other foster parents and ask for ideas on how best you can meet the child’s needs.
- Respect their rights and confidentiality. The information given to you should enable you to understand them and not share with other people.
Fostering Children: How Do You Foster A Child
How to become a foster parent is an experience that requires a lot, but all focused on bringing up another child who’s not your own. As you acquire the necessary skills to foster a child, you will learn a lot and also change the life of the kid. Since it’s not easy, you need to prepare in advance before taking this role.
Foster parents who have already attained the skills will have an easy time fostering kids. On the other hand, if you don’t have any experience in doing so, take your time and learn. Some parents will advise you to first take care of one to know whether you are really into it or you should give it more time. The moment you feel that you are fit for the role, go through the regulations and learn the above steps before taking another foster child.