How To Welcome A Teen Foster Child Into Your Home

As a teenager, being placed in a foster home can be overwhelming and stressful. And as a foster family, bringing a teen into your home can be very nerve-wracking. They're much more aware of their circumstances than younger children are. And making them comfortable amidst all of their stress can be difficult. But having a good first impression can truly make a big impact on your teen foster child. So, how do you go about doing that? First of all- follow your instict. Do what works for you! And what seems right at the time. Here's the schedule I usually stick to:

Introduce Yourself: First thing, I introduce myself with a big smile. I'm typically really excited to have a new addition in the family and it's difficult for me to hide that excitement. But it seems to make me approachable and I appear kind. So it seems to work!

Show Them Around The House: I do a quick house tour. I give them a basic tour of each room. In the livingroom I show them where to find the TV remote. In the kitchen I give them a quick idea of where they can find everything (but also let them know that they can dig through and find things as they need them). I make sure to show them other bedrooms- and to literally go through every room of the house. I try to end at their room.

Bring Their Stuff To Their Room: I always offer to carry the kid's things for them. Often they want to hold it themselves- so that's fine. But I do show them that I'm willing to help. When we finish with the house tour, I'll leave them at their room. I'll show them around quickly. And then I'll let them settle themselves in, without my snooping eyes.

Allow Them To Unpack, Get Comfy: I always let me child know, that if they feel like unpacking that they can. I let them know that everything in their room is theirs and that they can use whatever they need to. I also usually have a welcome basket, that I will give the teens with basic necessities. You can read Teen Foster Child Welcome Basket Ideas for more information on my welcome baskets for teens.

Bring In A Snack: After about an, hour- I'll knock on their door and ask to come in. Sometimes (very rarely) I'll get a "no". But most of the time I'll get a "yes". At this point I offer them snacks and sit down to talk a bit. If they say "no" I wait it out and come back a little later. When we talk, I basically tell them the truth. I give them the facts on what their case worker told me. I let them know all of the information I have regarding their placement. I let them know my plans for them, and that they can come to me if they need anything. And then we talk a bit about their interests. Do they play any sports in school? Is there anything I can get for them to make them feel more at-home? Is there a certain hobby that they'd like to participate in (video games, arts and crafts, etc) that I can buy items for?

Invite Them To Participate In A Small Activity: Once we've talked a bit, I'll invite them to a small activity. 99% of the time, the activity is making a meal. Usually dinner. We'll cook together and talk while we do so. I'll teach them a new recipe and then we'll sit down to eat.

Invite Them To Come To Meals: If you're child is not being so willing to participate, privacy is important too- and let them know that it's okay for them to be alone for a while. But make a point to always invite them to EVERY SINGLE meal. IF they don't come- bring food to them. Don't leave them left out.

Let Them Know Your Plan For The Week: At some point within the first day, sit them down and just give them a basic run-down of your plans for the week. Usually you'll have a doctor's appointment to attend, you'll need to enroll them in school, you might need to go shopping for necessity items for them- whatever you need to do, plan it out with them. Let them know what your plans are for the next week, so they know what to expect. It will give them a sense of ease knowing exactly what the next and hardest first transition days entail.

1 comment:

  1. This is incredibly helpful! While I'm not technically bringing home a teenage foster son, we are brining home my teenage step son who does not know me or his father or siblings or this side of his family and is leaving a very abusive and neglectful background. I want to make his transition as smooth as possible and his first day home great. Thank you.