If you are a new parent, you may have been more than a bit surprised when those ‘instinctive parenting’ feelings didn’t immediately set in when you had your children.
Parenting, like many things in life, is composed of different skills which take time to learn and get right. In most cases, you will make more than a few mistakes with your first child.
However, what if you have children of your own, but are then looking to foster a child? There are a few mistakes that can be made in this area too, and in this article, some of the most common ones to avoid will be explored.
Not Setting Routines
Suppose you already have children of your own when you welcome a foster child into your life. It can be easy to let routines slide a bit until they get comfortable.
But any foster care agency will tell you that this is not a good idea and that fostered children do better when there is a routine in place that is kept up when they arrive. This will help them to fit in better and will allow them to break up the day in their minds, which will help them to feel more secure and settled.
Not Setting Boundaries
It is likely that when you foster a child, they will have come from a background where there may have been drugs, abuse, and neglect. Much as before with the routine, this can make the average person feel very bad for the child, and so, it can be tempting once again to let them get away with things as there are concerns about punishment.
But much like routines, boundaries are important for helping children to settle in and to learn the rules of their new home and family. Always aim to be consistent and endeavor to use age-appropriate techniques.
It is common for new foster parents to want to hug their new child, especially if that child came from a home where they were neglected or abused. However, you should not expect hugs from your new foster child, and you should certainly not force this onto them, as this can cause distress. Aim to give them the space to talk to you if they want to.
Hugs will come in time, and if your foster child wants to hug you, let them.
Not Seeking Help
When you foster a child, you will likely be in communication with the fostering agency for some time afterward, as well as social services. But you should never be ashamed to ask for help. If you are struggling to manage your foster child due to their emotional and behavioral issues, then there is no shame in asking for help. So, be sure to contact the appropriate agencies if you need to.
Expecting Too Much
This may sound odd, but sometimes parents and even foster parents can expect too much from their children. If you have a foster child, you will likely need to work with them to manage difficult emotions, and there may be some emotional backlash from time to time. Do not expect them to be the perfect child, as this can put undue pressure on them, and cause them to feel more isolated.