How To Welcome A Foster Child Into Your Home

Last week I wrote an article detailing how I welcome teenage foster children into my home. But what do I do for younger kids? I do have a different way of welcoming smaller children into my home. Obviously the age difference does account for the fact I treat younger and older kids different. Both get the same love and respect- but younger kids are usually a lot more confused, but also tend to be a bit more eager to get to know their new surroundings. Just as with the teens, I recommend you follow your instinct. Do what works for you and the child. This is just a simple 'schedule' that I usually stick by with younger kids.

Bend Down, Smile, and Introduce Myself: I always bend down, or get on my knees (especially when dealing with toddlers and kids up to 7 or 8 years old. Why do I do this? It makes me appear smaller and much less threatening than a big scary adult. I smile really wide (usually out of my own excitement) and then introduce myself and tell the child my name.

Set Their Stuff In Their Room: When they first get dropped off, I try to set their stuff in their room (or have the case worker or person who brought the child, drop the stuff off for me). This gives the child a sense of security knowing their stuff is safe.

Show Them Around The House: And the first thing I always do (with any aged child) is to show them around the house. I give them a quick tour of every room. With younger kids I make a point to show them snacks they can eat in the kitchen, the kid's movies and DVD player in the livingroom, the library of children's books, and where our toy box (for everyone to share) is at.

Have A Snack: Once we're finished with the house tour, I'll offer them a snack. We'll sit down and talk for a while. I'll ask them questions to get to know them like "What is your favorite color?" and "What do you like to do for fun?". And I also make sure to ask if they have any questions for me. I also take a minute to try to explain to them, age-appropriately why they are in my home, and what we will do while they stay with me.

Do A Small Get-To-Know-Eachother Activity: Then I invite the kids to do a small activity with me. Often we'll make a snack- muffins or fruit salad or something kid-friendly and easy. Or we'll do a craft together. Just something to lighten the mood and make sure they know they'll have fun while they stay here.

Help Them Unpack: Later in the day, we'll take a while to unpack their stuff. I'll have them help me pick out places for where they want things to go. What drawers their shirts, pants, underwear, and socks should go in. Where to put any toys or little items they brought with. I also give them a 'Welcome Basket' with a few little items just for them to help welcome them into their new bedroom. To read more about welcome baskets visit __________

Let Them Know Your Plan For The Week: Around dinner time I will also sit them down and talk about what we'll do for the next week. I'll let them know if we're going to a doctor, or enrolling them in school, or going shopping for clothes and other things they need. I just give them a basic idea of what the next few days will entail. And each evening I make a point to remind them what they will be doing tomorrow- just to keep a semi-organized idea in their mind about what we will be doing. It also helps ease a bit of the stress about the 'unknown'.

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