What To Do When Your Foster Child Smokes Cigarettes

Cigarettes are a big 'no no' in my house. Both of my grandparents died from complications involving smoking and I'm avidly against anyone else going through the same horrific experiences they did. So when a child in my home smokes cigarettes- and I find out about it- I have a hard time keeping my cool. But, as always, I take great effort to understand my children over judging them. They've lived different lives than I have- and made different choices in return. I have no place to judge, but I do have a place to encourage a healthier life. So here's what I do.

Ask them why they started: First things first, I talk to them about it. When did they start smoking? Why? Most kids will simply say "because my friends did", and so comes the "If your friends jumped off of a bridge- would you?' lecture. I try to explain to my child that they can fit in and also say no. True friends won't care if you do the same things as them, and they'll respect your personal choices. I have a tough time not lecturing in this situation. But I have to remind myself that they also need to talk through this- so I try hard to keep my mouth shut and let theirs be open.

Take away any cigarettes they may have: Let them know you do not support unhealthy habits and that you're going to need to take away their cigarettes. BUT, tell them that they can go to the store and spend the money the cigarettes are worth on other items. This way you're not simply taking their property (that they spent their own money on). You're replacing their old property with new property.
Talk about why it's bad: Talk together about why cigarettes are bad. Watch documentaries on smoking. Read books. Talk to school counselors and case workers together. Show them that you're worried about them for a good reason. And you don't want to see their teeth get yellow and their lips get wrinkly.

Sign them up for a smoker's quitting program: There are all kinds of smokers quitting support groups. Sign your child up for one and attend meetings together. Encourage them to enter discussions and talk through things together. This also gives them a way to find people going through the same issues- and gives them a sense of belonging and motivation.

Help them find a quitting technique: Work together to find a quitting technique that matches them. Whether it's the patch, or a vapor cigarette, or gum chewing- or any other technique, find one that works and stick to it. Try different ideas until you find one your child is excited about.

Continue to educate them on the repurcussions of smoking: Just because your child quit smoking, doesn't mean they won't start up again. Continue to reinforce the knowledge of negative effects of smoking. Continue to teach them why they shouldn't smoke. And continue to encourage them to live a better lifestyle.

Find out who supplied the cigarettes: This is important not just for your child- but other kids also being supplied cigarettes underage. So figure out who's supplying the cigarettes and confront them. Let them know that if you continue to find your child with cigarettes or other of their friends with cigarettes that you will turn them into the police. This gives them a chance to change their behavior. But if they do continue to supply underage kids- it's time to take lawful action.

Ways To Make Your Foster Child Feel At Home

No one can really comprehend the uncomfort that comes with being a foster child, and being placed in a new house. Everything is new and different and SO intimidating. But there are a few small ways you can put your child's mind at ease and make them feel a bit more welcome in their new environment.


Have A 'Snack Drawer': Many foster kids come from homes where food wasn't always available. Having a snack drawer can help put your child's mind at ease by letting them know "there will always be food right here in this drawer". I like to keep healthy snacks in a drawer in the fridge. Things like grapes, cheese, apples, fruit cups, apple sauce, carrot sticks, and pre-made ham sandwiches.

Let Them 'Wall Sticker' Their Room: Wall stickers are such a cute, inexpensive, and fun way for kids to personalize their room. Plus- they're not permanent, they come right off with no residue! Let your kiddo pick out wall stickers they like (there are hundreds of themes from Disney Princess to skateboarding to One Direction). And then let them personalize their own room.

Have Pajamas Available: I keep pajamas of all sizes available. Why? The first night my child goes to sleep in my house, I want them to be as comfortable as possible. And even if I can't prepare for every single expense involved with them coming into my home, I want them to sleep comfortably. That first night is always the hardest. So a comfy pair of PJs really can be a nice way to make the transition a little easier.

Use Age-Appropriate Hygiene Products: Spongebob themed shampoo is the best for younger kids! And they have such a blast using light-up toothbrushes! These little things can make a foster child so so excited about keeping clean. On the other hand- teens enjoy more adult items. Don't make your teen boy use lavender scented shampoo- buy him a guys brand. And let your teen girl have something fruity and fun. Let them pick their own tooth brush, tooth paste, deodorant, and razors. These little personalization's can make a huge difference.

Amazing Things You Can Do For Your Foster Child

There are a few things many foster kids don't ever get to experience- but that doesn't mean they don't HAVE to experience them. As a foster parent, you're job isn't only to care for the child, but to FOSTER opportunities for them as well. Give them a chance to experience things. There are so many ways you can do this. And they take such little effort, but make such a big impact...

Let Them Foster A Pet: Most kids, while in foster care, will never own a pet. If your child shows an interest in having an animal companion, perhaps you should discuss allowing them to foster one. Explain the process to them ahead of time so they know what it entails and then allow them to decide. Fostering pets is not a long-term commitment, but it's a great way for your child to be involved in charity work, have a pet, and openly talk about the foster parenting process (using their experience fostering an animal to talk about their experiences being fostered as well).

Redecorate Their Room: You don't have to paint the walls, but let them personalize their space. New bedding, wall stickers, curtains, and floor rugs are great and affordable ways to let your child personalize their space. Very few foster children get to live in a room that is truly theirs. By letting them decorate their own area, you say to them "while you're here- this is your home". Rather than "while you're here- this is the house you live in".

Go 'Birthday Decoration' Shopping: Birthdays are a huge deal in my house. We go all out. And it's for a good reason. Some foster kids have had birthdays completely forgotten in the past. Others have had nonchalant parties. We always do pretty big festivities- and we do it for a multitude of reasons. The first being that it shows the child they're worth celebrating. And it also gives them a chance to experience something every kid should have the chance to do- have a big birthday.

Let Them Pick Holiday Meals: Holiday meals are a big event in any household. By allowing your foster child to pick a course or two, you're letting them be involved. It gives them away to make the holidays personal, and it also lets them know their opinion is valued. Also welcome them to help you cook the courses they picked!

Open A Bank Account: Not all social workers really like the idea of foster kids having a bank account. There's a lot of extra legalities that go with it. If your social worker won't let you open a bank account for the child- ask about a trust fund (that they can access at 18 or 21). Bank accounts are a great way to teach your child about money management. And so many foster kids go through life without having any banking experience. Showing them the ropes at an early age can open up opportunities for them later in life.

Give Them Extra-Curricular Opportunities: Ballet, karate, art classes, volunteering opportunities, community events, school sports and teams. Lots of foster children are interested in experiencing these things, but don't feel like they're "allowed to". Let them know that they can sign up and try out for anything they want- and help them find classes if you can. Extra curricular activities help your child develop teamwork skills, communication skills, leadership, and confidence. There are many organizations dedicated to helping provide financial help to foster kids who want to do these things as well. So if you can't afford it- there are organizations who can help make it possible.

Let Them Have Sleepovers: I really cannot express how important sleepovers are! They are such a fond memory for so many people (including you- probably!). So don't take away your child's chance to safely interact with their peers. They'll be in your home, with your rules, and you can supervise them. But they also get to have the fun chance to hang out outside of school- and be awake all through the night. It's such a neat thing for kids, and foster kids should be able to experience that too.

March Foster Parent Bucket List

Go Bowling or Roller Skating: Two of America's most traditional and affordable past times are bowling and roller skating. Letting your kid be involved in either of these activities is a great way to just have fun together. You'll make memories and teach them a new skill!

Learn About Fire-Safety/ Practice A Fire-Safety Plan: Every month is a great month to teach your child about fire safety- but if you haven't had the chance to prior, make March your month for fire safety. Take a day to teach your child what to do in case of a fire, the escape plan for your house, and where you'll meet outside.

Visit A Library Each Week: Take one day of each week and go to a local library. Library cards are free! And reading is a skill worth practicing. Let your child choose books that interest them. And pick out a few books for yourself as well!

Collect Postcards Via HeroNetwork: Use the website and post a wish asking for people to send post cards from their state (or country if they are outside of the US). Set up a map on a wall in your house and let your child discover all parts of the world through the mail that comes to your mailbox!

Visit A Local Historical Site: Every area in America has some kind of history. Whether it's traditional Native American land, a war site, or the birth place of a famous historical figure- towns all across the US have some kind of historical value. Make a point to visit one of these places with your child- and discover the history and knowledge behind it together.