Every new job has an adjustment period. For parents who have biological children, their adjustment period thankfully happens long before kids can even remember their bumbles and adjustments. However, for first-time foster parents, chances are the kids in your charge will notice. They will be older, they’ll be wary, and you have a lot to prove to them. What you prove isn’t that you’re worthy or that you can be in charge, but instead, you will need to prove that they are in a safe space, that they will be cared for, and that they can finally start focussing on being a kid again.
Older children are generally warier than younger ones, buthelping them break out of their shells and giving them a safe, stable place to live can do wonders. Having the right expectations, however, can help you help them, which is why it is important to know what to expect in your first week as a foster parent:
Your First Week Will Depend on the Situation
What you can expect will differ based on the foster situation at hand. Thefca.co.uk highlights several different foster situations, noting that you may foster a child for a very short period of time, like a few weeks to a few months, all the way till adulthood. Children who know they are going back home soon are often more patient with their foster situation than those adapting to a new, permanent reality. Always look for specific advice and long-term strategies based on the type of foster situation you are getting involved in.
What to Expect In Your First Week
Foster parenting and parenting do have a lot of overlap, though with parenting, you have a lot longer to learn and get to know your own children. On top of getting to know them during that first week, you can expect a lot of appointments and busywork, like setting them up at their new school if you are in a long-term placement situation. Regardless of these additional admin tasks, your social worker will be there to help you through every situation will often include:
- Difficult First Night: Be prepared to have a difficult first night. The kid or children will be in a new environment, surrounded by strangers. Giving them the opportunity to make their room feel like their own and having quality or get-to-know-each-other games and other ice breakers is a good way to get started on the right foot.
- A Need for Routine: Build a routine and stick with it right from the start. Older children and teens should have some say in the routine in question, but younger children generally will take your lead. Set up a consistent schedule like when dinner is, when bedtime is, and their wake-up and bedtime routines in question.
- Eventual Backlash: Generally speaking, children are well behaved the first week, and it is only after they settle and become more comfortable that they begin pushing boundaries. A good way to minimize bad behaviour is to set up consistent routines, outline clear consequences for bad behaviour, and rewards for good behaviour. By keeping to your word and offering a stable, nurturing environment, you can both adapt. Not every child is the same, of course.