Imagine this. You're a child who has been told they are going into foster care. Imagine what questions you would have racing around your mind?
Where I would live?
What will my room would look like?
What will the family I live with be like?
Will I see my family or friends again?
It must be scary.
As you know, first impressions count for a lot. So, how can foster carers help a child feel comfortable in their house when they first arrive?
Some carers use food, e.g. the smell of a cake as you walk in the door is so welcoming. It's important to smile and talk to the children as you will be nervous too. Offer for them to have a look around the house and then show them their room.
For you, as a carer, you want them to be happy but for them, they have just left their family so it is important to take little steps.
Remember that trust, respect and care are all things that grow in time, be patient with them and remember how good it feels to laugh. This is a tool you can teach them for life. Relationships take time to build so it's important to be patient.
Some conversations about seeing their family and friends will need to be spoken about with their social workers so be careful not to make promises but perhaps respond to them by saying, I will find out for you and let you know.
You need to take little steps to teach them new things such as; how to use a knife and fork, how to brush their teeth, or how to bake together and eat what you have made with a hot chocolate! Involve them in household chores and tasks, without pressuring, and try to make them fun.
Along with spending time together to talk, here are some other tips for building your relationship:
Encourage them gently to tell you how they are feeling - scared, sad, mad, or happy!
Teach them about reliability and that you will be there for them.
Whenever possible always find things to praise a child for, this will help build their confidence.
Remember to keep memories of their time spent with you, for example, if you take them to the cinema keep the ticket so they will have things to look at when they are an adult.
Time is the biggest gift you can give to anyone, it always sends a loud message - I care about you and want to be with you.
If you're reading this and you're not a carer, is it time for a new career? We are looking for foster carers to come and join our fostering agency so call us to have an informal chat and see if this is the right career for you on 01903 823546 and ask to speak to Kim. Or find out more here.