6 Ways To Improve Communication With Your Foster Child
As a leading fostering agency, we know that becoming a foster carer is a truly remarkable and touching act of courage that will help give a vulnerable foster child the brightest possible future.
Whilst it’s important to have the determination and willingness to make a difference, it’s also crucial that you have the ability to effectively communicate with your foster child, so that their thoughts, feelings and emotions can be easily understood. Throughout your fostering journey it’s in our nature, as well as our motto, to make sure that you’re not alone at any point, as we’re here to support, train and encourage.
Although there are many other areas to consider, we have concentrated on the following 6 ways that we believe will increase your confidence and effectiveness as a foster parent when communicating with your foster child.
1. Building trust from the start
Preparing your home practically for the arrival of a foster child can be a fantastic way to make a child feel welcome, but it’s also important that the communication that you use during those early stages aims to build trust, as well as security.
Observing their behaviour and asking questions about the child’s favourite hobbies, toys, games and sporting activities are two extremely powerful ways of establishing confidence.
2. Remember to give your child a say
We all know that for any parent and child relationship to be fully successful there must be an element of bias to help ensure a sense of discipline.
However, we regularly see that the most successful foster relationships are those that incorporate open forms of communication, with children being able to voice their opinion as they become heavily involved in each decision that is made within the family unit.
3. Praise, and lots of it!
As a foster parent there may be a tendency to focus on overcoming the more negative behaviours that a child may display. Maximising the amount of praise that you provide for even the smallest of achievements can have a greater impact on their confidence, self-worth and trust for you as a carer, than if you were to constantly focus upon dealing with potential problems.
4. It’s wrong to judge
The last thing that a foster child really needs from a loving and caring foster family is to be judged, and although it’s in our character to do so, you should certainly try and avoid it. Having an open mind set that sidesteps the critical remarks is more likely to lead to a happy, healthy and secure foster child.
5. Be a good listener
Some foster children are as a quiet as mice and others are complete chatterboxes, but either way it’s imperative that you’re a good listener. When you listen to a child it shows that you care and that you value their opinions.
Whether or not you agree with their point of view is a different matter, but at this stage children are just looking for someone who they can share their thoughts and feelings with.
6. A smile can make all the difference
Having a huge smile, making eye contact and unfolding your arms are all active ways in which you can portray warmth, positivity and openness when communicating with your foster child.
For more information and advice about improving your communication with foster children, or to find out about the support and rewards that are available when you foster with us, get in touch with a dedicated member of the Perpetual Fostering team today.
Our body loses fluid when we breathe, sweat and urinate, and in order to stay healthy you should ensure that you replace the fluid you’ve lost. The best way to do this is simply to make sure you drink enough water. If we don’t drink enough water then we become dehydrated which is dangerous because the minerals in our body become unbalanced which can affect the way our body functions.
The signs of dehydration are:
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- A dry mouth
- Feeling thirsty
Water is the healthiest choice when you’re thirsty or dehydrated as it doesn’t contain sugars which can harm your teeth. It is recommended that women should drink 1.6 litres of fluid a day which is the equivalent of about 8 glasses of water and for men the recommended amount is 2.0 litres which is approximately 10 glasses of water.
These are the recommended amounts and are only an approximate value, so if you drink a little less than this or a little more don’t be too worried. The amount a person needs to drink can vary depending on many factors for example, if it’s a hot and sunny day or if it’s you’ve exercised. And don’t forget, if you find plain water a little dull, why not add some lime, lemon, cucumber or strawberries … the list is endless. Have fun and drink up!
Exams are just around the corner and it’s that time of year where you might be starting to feel the strain. The exam period is a stressful time and many young people struggle with what seems like endless amounts of revision and the ever-looming knowledge of the exam period rapidly approaching. But fear not, there are some really great hints and tips to help you de-stress and feel ready for your exams.
Make sure you know the dates and times for your exams ahead of time including any extra information for example, which buildings or venues you may be taking exams in. This will help you feel more prepared and you can focus revision on certain subjects depending on when the exam is.
Make a revision timetable
If you make a revision timetable it will make it easier to motivate yourself to sit down and get some revision done. This will also help you manage your revision for each subject so you know you’re getting enough done.
Use as many resources as you can to revise such as textbooks, library books, revision websites, class notes so you can gain as much information as possible.
Change up your revision
Whilst you may find one specific type of revision quite effective, it’s always good to change up your revision and try something different so that you don’t get bored.
Even thought it’s good to be motivated and determined to do the best you can, you have to make sure you don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Try your best to have breaks in between revision so your brain can process what you’ve just learnt.
Most young people know that, every now and again, we all need a little bit of help. Whether it’s help with maths homework or help with a personal problem, there’s always someone you think you can turn to get guidance from. Sometimes, however, it’s difficult for some people to be able to ask for help, even if there are lots of people around them who would be happy to offer support. Here are some top tips on asking for help when you need it most:
1. Be confident
Some people are naturally quite shy and may struggle slightly with confidence, so they find it hard just to approach someone to ask for their help. If you’re in a similar situation, don’t worry! Most people are often happy to give their time to others who need it, so you shouldn’t be afraid to ask.
2. Don’t be afraid
You shouldn’t feel like you have to handle all of your problems on your own. Everyone needs help every once in a while so don’t be afraid to put your hand up and admit that you need help. You’ll feel much better once you’ve done something about an issue.
3. Always ask
People who are independent might not always ask for help because they’re afraid that others would judge them for it. But this shouldn’t be the case. Asking for help is not a sign a weakness, and it actually shows that you’re mature enough to know when you need support from others.
So, it’s crucial that if you’re really struggling with something, you turn to someone else for help. Try to make sure it’s someone you trust and feel comfortable around so you know that your problem will be listened to and cared about.
Did you know that young people need around 10 hours of sleep each night?
While the actual figures vary, experts say that young people aged 7-12 need 10-11 hours sleep a night whereas 12-18 year olds need less, at about 8-9 hours per night. Although you may not realise it, getting enough sleep is extremely important.
Here are some of the reasons why:
- Sleep gives you some of the energy you need for the activities you do during the day
- Researchers believe that not getting enough sleep could affect how your immune system works
- You might not be able to concentrate in school if you’re tired
So, you may not actually be getting the amount of sleep that you need. But what if you struggle to fall asleep? A lot of people do and studies have shown that 1 in 4 teenagers have trouble sleeping.
How you can get a better night’s sleep:
Switch off: Try to make your bedroom free of electronics. If you’re lay in bed on your phone or tablet, it will make you feel more awake, meaning that it will be harder for you to eventually fall asleep.
Get active during the day: The more active you are during the day then the more likely it is that you feel a bit more sleepy when it’s time to go to bed.
Have a consistent bed time: If you try and go to sleep at the same time every night then your body will get used to the routine and it will be easier to go to sleep.
Limit your caffeine intake: Try not to have any food or drink that contains high amounts of caffeine before you go to bed, otherwise you will feel more alert and awake.
Stress is a very common issue to experience. Almost everyone experiences stress, no matter what their age. Many factors can cause stress and it may be hard sometimes to find a way to deal with it.
Stress is a feeling of strain or tension when dealing with demanding or challenging situations. You may not know it but you may suffer from stress quite a lot in your day-to-day life. Whether you have a big exam coming up or you’re having a particularly hard week at school, the uncomfortable and somewhat drained feeling you experience is likely to be stress.
A lot of people experience stress daily and confiding in your carer or a trusted friend might actually help you feel a bit better – it isn’t ever anything to be ashamed of or to feel embarrassed about.
So now that you understand what stress is, you might find that you have experienced it from time to time or that you are currently experiencing stress. There are lots of methods which can help to reduce stress. A few examples are:
- Getting enough sleep
- Breathing exercises
- Not over thinking too much – try to be optimistic!
- Solve smaller problems first before tackling the bigger and scarier ones
- Talking to your carer or a friend about it
- Re-evaluating your schedule to make sure you’re not over exerting yourself
- Don’t try to be perfect – you will only put pressure on yourself
Setting goals is a vital and extremely useful skill in life. If you set goals, whether they are big lifelong goals, or small daily goals, you are more likely to achieve things you want to achieve and be more successful. Studies show that it usually takes five or six unsuccessful attempts at goal setting to make them happen. So if you don’t achieve you goals straight away, don’t give up!
There are hundreds of tips and tricks to help you set goals, but one that I think is really helpful is the SMART method.
SMART is a mnemonic for:
Specific: Instead of a general goal such as “I want to do better in school” you should set a specific goal like “I will complete my homework essay by the end of this week.” Setting specific targets will make it a lot easier to achieve your overall goal
Measurable: By making your goals measurable, it will be easier to track your progress and realise if you have been successful.
Attainable: It is important to know whether your goals are realistic. If you aim to achieve an unrealistic target then you are more likely to be unsuccessful. Always set sensible and manageable goals to ensure you achieve what you want to achieve.
Relevant: Are your goals relevant to the ‘big picture’ i.e. Your main goal, possibly the biggest one. What you’ve got to look at is the small goals that you’ve set: Are they worthwhile? Are you likely to achieve them? Are these definitely the goals you need to set?
Time- related: Setting time specific targets will keep you on track and help you to really focus on what you need to do. Rather than setting one goal that you want to achieve a long time ahead in the future, think about what you need to do along the way to reach that goal.
What about you? What goals do you have for the future? Let us know – if you’re a young person thinking about the next few years, we’d love to hear from you!
At Perpetual Fostering, we continually encourage the improvement of our foster carers’ skills through training, forums, mentoring, support, and help with qualifications. We want our foster carers to share with each other, and come to us for advice and support whenever they feel it is needed. In the spirit of this, we’ve compiled a few tips for remembering during the process of fostering a child.
Remember the little things
Remember all the great things about fostering, and try to celebrate together through sharing them with your foster children. Encouraging the show of mutual appreciation can help with self-esteem and make foster children feel welcome, increasing their comfortability in your home.
Believe in your foster children
For foster carers and social workers to believe that their foster children can achieve the best is hugely encouraging. Foster children come from all kinds of backgrounds; backgrounds that may not have necessarily nurtured a healthy, positive image. To show that you believe that they are capable of doing well at school, going on to great things, or any project they take up, usually goes a great way to helping them do just that.
Build a connection
Young people need to feel that they can trust you when they need advice. This doesn’t mean you have to know what it’s like to be from their background; you just have to be there to listen and try to learn where they’re coming from without making them feel like you’re prying. Making an effort, even when it’s difficult, will hopefully produce great results in the long run.
Going further to include foster children in your family ensures that they don’t feel like an outsider, and can help with any recovery that may need to happen. Finding out what activities and after school clubs are available to your foster child can be really helpful in growing social skills, friendships, and support outside your home. Take an interest in their passions and take time to invest in their dreams and life goals. Having someone who values them for who they are, will be something that they will, no doubt, thank you for one day.
If you’re considering foster care with us, contact us or visit our Becoming a Foster Carer page for more information.
You will have heard the phrase, “all good things in moderation”. However, when it comes to fostering, moderating yourself regarding natural human responses can be difficult. Striking the balance between a caring relationship with a child, whilst maintaining a healthy, appropriate amount of distance, is a skill in and of itself.
Clearly, there are several thoughts that many new foster carers tend to struggle with:
- how do I intentionally limit the attachment that grows between myself and the child?
- what if the child is upset by the distance I’m required to maintain?
- why can’t I behave naturally around the child?
As we’re all human beings, these are completely natural questions. However, the simple fact of fostering means that after coming together, the majority of foster carers and their foster children will end up going their separate ways. For many, this is an inevitable part of the journey.
But how the foster carer approaches this, and the mindset they employ as they go about their role, can and does make all the difference. And what’s more, at Perpetual Fostering we’re well aware of the hard work involved in getting this important relationship right. Time and time again, we have strived to leverage our many years of collective experience to support our carers every step of way, whenever needed.
Our team at Perpetual Fostering provides round the clock counsel, support and advice: this is all in place to put our carers at ease. After passing our rigorous assessment, part of the way we reward everyone who fosters with us is through partnering closely and conscientiously with each and every individual.
In light of this, it’s important to remember that all we expect from our carers is for them to be themselves. There’s no pressure on them to try and be the all-knowing, omnipotent and hyper-capable “super carer”, always armed with the right answers and never with any need for advice or help. Figuring out how to balance a relationship with a foster child is something that only comes with time, alongside experience gained from a variety of foster placements. So – whatever stage you’re at in your fostering journey – if you’re scratching your head about this balancing act, don’t worry. Everyone has to start somewhere!
If you’re thinking about fostering, but are unsure about what is involved, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’re always here to share our knowledge about foster care – we’d also love to hear from you.
You may not realise it, but not a lot of people read books anymore. In recent years, reading has become a less popular hobby, especially because of the increasing popularity of social networking, smart phones, and online gaming. But, you might not realise just how beneficial reading is. When you pick up a book, you’re opening the door to endless possibilities.
Reading can teach you new things
When you’re reading a book you’re constantly taking in new information. Whether it’s a gigantic encyclopaedia or a futuristic fantasy novel, you’ll learn something new which could be helpful in the future, maybe even in your homework!
Reading is entertaining
Reading is created to be fun! You may find it hard to believe that statement, but just think, have you ever been so captivated by a book that you couldn’t put it down because you just had to know what happens next? That’s what books are supposed to do! They are meant to be exciting and allow you to explore your imagination.
It can help you feel totally chilled out
Recent studies have shown that reading for just six minutes a day can make you feel more relaxed and that reading can actually reduce stress more than taking a long walk or listening to music can. If you’ve had a busy day, grab a book, sit down and lose yourself in a story to feel totally chilled out!
Books are great conversation starters
If you really enjoyed a book you’ve read recently, then it’s nice to be able to share it with someone else. You never know, they might have read it too and enjoyed it just as much, so you’ll have lots to talk about!