Sometimes it can be difficult to know what to say to a foster child and this can be the case for foster parents, teachers and social workers. Keeping communication open with your foster child is important to ensure you talk through issues and expectations and so that you offer support and guidance when they need it most.
We know it’s not always easy to know what to say to a child and sometimes it can be particularly difficult to find the right words with foster children. Knowing what question to ask/not to ask and things to say or avoid saying can be helpful for many foster carers. Here are few tips:
Things to avoid
- Asking why they are in foster care
It is often difficult for children to understand why they are in care themselves. They may understand some of the reasons behind being in care but these can often be upsetting.
- Negative things about being in foster care
Suggesting that being in foster care is a bad thing can result in a foster child being upset or feeling rejected. It is important to remain positive about their opportunities and focus on proving a safe and happy environment.
- Negative things about their parents or family
Every child in foster care is different. Some children will want to talk about their parents or family and others prefer not to. Some may feel loyalty towards their parents or family and others may feel resentment. If you are unsure what to say regarding a child’s parents or family, talk with your social worker for support.
- A ‘new’ family
Some fostering placements can result in long term placements or adoption but others will be short, so it is important to remember that it is not always a ‘new’ family for your foster child.
Things that are good to say
- Ask them what they think?
Asking a child what they think when you are discussing something or when they have asked you a question is a very good way to build their confidence and to remind them that you value their opinion. Listening is just as important as talking.
- That you are proud of them
When your foster child does well ensure you show recognition and praise their accomplishments both at school and home. This helps foster children to feel valued and appreciated.
- Encourage them to do their best
As with all children, it is important to remind foster children that all they can do is their best. Encouraging and motivating children can be complex, so asking if they did their best is a good way to encourage them to reflect on how they have done.
- Remind them that people care about them
It is important for all children including those in foster care to know that people are thinking about them and want to best for them. Remind your foster child that people care about them and are there to provide help and support when they need it.
For more information about fostering, transferring to Fairways Foster Care or becoming a foster carer, contact us.