14 Ways to Bond with Your Foster Child

It can be both exciting and nerve-racking as you work on getting your new foster child settled into your home. You want your foster child to feel welcome and comfortable, and you want to establish a connection. We will take a look at 14 ways to bond with your foster child.

Family Outings

Participating at family events demonstrates a strong foundation and makes your youngster feel included. It’s also a wonderful approach to meeting new people and beginning a relationship on a nice and enjoyable one.

Family Outing Ideas

  • Fairs
  • Museums
  • Games
  • Camping
  • Trips
  • Picnics
  • Swimming

Engaging with your child and doing a variety of activities opens the door for open dialog and a connection.

Consistency is key when it comes to developing attachments with your child. It is critical that you set aside quality time each day to establish expectations for yourself and your child.

You’ll want to hold yourself accountable for your involvement in this pairing and connection. Quality time provides you both something to look forward to while also acquainting you with each other.

Young boy sitting on the floor.

Sharing Meals

It would be much easier and simpler for many parents to forget about family dinners. Jobs, children, and after-school activities all contribute to families being constantly on the move, causing them to crave fast food.

However, an increasing number of parents are recognizing the value of spending quality time with their children at the dinner table. This is frequently the only occasion when all family members are present at the same time.

Although some people see family dinners as yet another heavy job at the end of a long day, more American families are realizing that the benefits of spending time together at the end of the day go beyond calories.

Numerous studies have shown that dining together as a family is not only a valuable part of family life but also aids in weight management.

When a family sits down together to eat, it helps them cope with the tensions and annoyances of daily life. Eating together encourages more reasonable eating habits, which makes it easier for family members to manage their weight.

Things to keep in mind when planning family meals:

  • Make it a point to schedule family dinners as an opportunity rather than an inconvenience.
  • Allow the child to sit where they feel most comfortable.
  • Ask each child about their day, their dreams, and other questions while listening intently. This attention helps a child to feel important, heard, and valued. This in turn builds your foster child’s self-esteem.
  • Mealtime is a great way to teach children proper table manners. Just try not to be too disciplinarian about it, as mealtimes should feel positive and enjoyable.

In today’s world, our days can be very hectic. Making time to have meals together is a wonderful way for the family to reconnect and is a great time to touch base with how your foster child is doing.

Fishing

Fishing offers time to bond with a foster child in many ways.

Fishing has many benefits for family members of all ages, whether you just want to enjoy an outdoor sport or want to help bring your family closer by partaking in a hobby that allows you to learn and grow together.

While fishing is wonderful for allowing the entire family to spend screen-free time in nature while also getting some fresh air and exercise, it’s the ambiance that helps you to form profound family relationships.

Outside activities have been demonstrated to improve children’s social, emotional, and cognitive skills, as well as their language and communication relationships.

This implies that spending time and space on a boat as a family is an excellent approach to help children develop communication skills while also teaching them vital life lessons.

And while waiting for the fish to bite, conversations happen naturally.

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Cooking Together

Cooking is an important life skill for adults, however, younger people’s cooking skills have been deteriorating over time. Getting your foster child into the kitchen can not only boost their self-confidence, but it can be a wonderful way to bond.

Cooking complete, wholesome, and tasty food with your child(ren) is a gift that will last a lifetime, and it will also build confidence, which is a valuable ability for everyone.

When you develop excellent eating habits as a youngster, including an understanding of where genuine food comes from, it’s also a lot easier to keep healthy later in life.

Additionally, involving your child in the cooking process will encourage them to try new things and develop an interest in a wider range of meals. Children want meaning and purpose, as well as the ability to choose what they eat.

I’ve noticed that when my three children are participating in the process rather than being told what to eat, they are more interested in trying new foods.

If you’re feeding a picky youngster, there’s a strong possibility that once they’re in charge of their meals, they’ll become more adventurous.

Another method to involve your children in the process is to take them to the grocery store and let them choose a new fruit or vegetable.

I love having my kids help me plan our weekly menu, and you can take it a step further by taking them shopping with you to find the goods you’ll need for the recipes.

Reading Books Together

Reading a book to a foster child can be especially comforting during a time when they have been removed from their home and placed into foster care.

Reading to your children is a fantastic way to help them learn to read. It also forms a crucial link and may be beneficial to brain development.

More brain growth occurs during pregnancy and the first three years of a child’s life than at any other period.

Reading to your children from a young age is a crucial aspect of stable attachment, which is defined as a mutually attuned relationship of trust between the primary caregiver and the kid.

Reading with youngsters can help them grow their brains and build critical friendships.

The following are some things you may want to take into consideration:

  • Make reading a daily routine, even when you are tired. Routines are comforting to a child and also give them something to look forward to.
  • Visit your local library and let the child pick out books that he or she finds interesting.
  • When reading to your child, read with enthusiasm and excitement void of sounding monotone. This will make hearing the story more entertaining for both you and your foster child.

You may also want to have a special reading spot in your home that you always go to when reading a story, as well as a special blanket or stuffed animal. Taking these extra measures helps your new foster child to feel secure in their new surroundings.

Asking Open-Ended Questions

Let’s face it. Sometimes a foster child just doesn’t want to open up. There are, however, things you can do to encourage some open dialog.

  • Look at the child when they are talking and try your best to not get distracted. This helps a child feel important, and valued, and shows you sincerely care about what they have to say.
  • Understand that there will be times your foster child just is not in the mood to talk. Be respectful of that and try again at another time.
  • Make it a point not to be too critical while the child is talking. If the child feels he or she may be lectured, they will avoid talking with you unless they have to.
  • Avoid yes or no questions and strive for more open-ended questions; otherwise, you won’t get much of an answer in return.

But what are open-ended questions, anyway? Let’s take a look at some examples of open-ended questions below:

  • What do you wish we would do more often?
  • What are four words you would use to describe yourself?
  • What are the three traits of a good parent?
  • When was the time that you were the happiest?

There are countless open-ended questions that you can ask a child to get them to open up. Hopefully, this gives you a good idea of what we mean by an open-ended question.

Having a Routine

Family routines, as most parents are aware, provide several benefits to both children and adults.

These ordinary aspects of our lives provide stability and predictability for our children, whether it’s consistent morning routines or reading bedtime stories. As a result, youngsters feel more safe, secure, and more cherished.

But what is meant by having a routine? If you’re hoping for some ideas, then we have you covered. Below are some examples of a consistent routine:

  • Family game nights every Wednesday
  • Family meetings every Thursday evening
  • Nightly bedtime routines (including hygiene habits, reading books, and getting tucked into bed)
  • Extracurricular activities, such as soccer, softball, baseball, ballet, etc.
  • Shared nightly dinners and meal prep
  • Homework time
  • Chores time
  • Mornings, getting ready for school time

Each family’s routine is different, so you’ll want to get into a routine that works best for you.

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Hanging Up the Child’s Family Photos or Drawings

Regardless of what your foster child has been through or what your personal feelings are about their biological parents, children can love unconditionally and miss the family they were removed from.

Allowing a child to hang up photos of their family in a special place, maybe in their bedroom, can offer your foster child some comfort and familiarity.

If family photos are not available, perhaps your foster child would want to draw photos of their family and the things about their family that they miss. For example, a drawing of their home, family pets, or siblings if separated from them.

Reading Books About Foster Care & Families

Great books expose our younger and older children to a wide range of topics and have been especially helpful to foster families as they navigate difficult times.

Stories have a way of leading to discussion, and discussion aids in the healing process.

For a list of recommended books for children in foster care, please visit Creating a Family.

Sharing Cultural Experiences

If you have a foster child who is of a different race or nationality, then involving your child in local cultural events is a fun way for your foster child to feel closer to his culture while at the same time offering some quality time you can share with your foster child.

Visiting your local library and checking out books about the child’s culture is also a way to encourage your child to celebrate who they are and to feel proud of their differences.

Visit a local restaurant that specializes in the ethnic foods of the child’s culture. Participate in events that celebrate their culture, and help the child to embrace their uniqueness.

Counseling

New foster parents frequently have a limited understanding of a foster child’s experiences and the patterns that are important for surviving a young existence full of upheaval, agony, and uncertainties.

When these coping methods appear in a new relationship, foster parents are understandably upset and seek help to “correct” the child’s perplexing and difficult conduct.

What these parents may not comprehend is that most of the healing will take place in their capacity to decipher the jumbled signals and address the child’s emotional needs.

The deeply established patterns of behavior and interaction will begin to shift if the parents can give both a secure base from which the child can explore the world and a safe refuge for the youngster to return to.

This is not a simple or quick procedure. To be sure, it’s a jumbled mess that frequently follows a one-step-forward, two-step-back pattern.

Parents must put their prejudices aside and contemplate what their children could be feeling.

For example, the youngster may appear and sound angry at first glance, but may he or she be terrified or sad?

Emotional and behavioral sequences have already been built in the youngster, and once engaged, they run automatically. These accidental and automatic tendencies must be altered to become healthier.

Moving Your Posture to Eye Level With the Child

Whenever possible, a foster parent should adjust their posture so that they are at eye level when speaking with and listening to their foster child.

Children will feel less intimidated and safer when you are down at their level. Positioning yourself at their level will also make you appear very involved and interested in what they have to say.

When a child sees you are intently listening to what they are saying, they feel valued, and a child who feels valued has higher self-esteem.

Quality One-On-One Time Together

With busy lives and hectic schedules, we can forget that children significantly benefit from a parent’s one-on-one time with them.

A few advantages of providing one-on-one time to your foster child follow:

  • Children are aware that your schedule is crazy, and they are also aware of how you choose to spend your free time. If you schedule time with them regularly, it sends a strong message that they are important to you.
  • When you’re doing something together, things happen. Perhaps someone you observe needs assistance. Perhaps you run into friends and strike up a little conversation. Just remember not to let life’s demands squeeze out personal time with your son or daughter.
  • Perhaps you schedule a weekly one-on-one date together for walks, an ice cream run, tossing a baseball, or anything else that allows conversation and bonding.

Tucking a Child Into Bed

The importance of tucking your child in is not for the reasons you may expect.

When people think of tucking in, they imagine going up to their infant and making sure the blanket is over them and the edges are tucked in around their darling little one’s body.

Tucking in, on the other hand, is much more than that. Tucking in is the entire point of a nighttime routine. You’re putting your child to bed and winding down after a long day.

It’s while brushing their teeth or cuddling while reading a story or watching a movie. Having a bedtime snack and catching up on the day.

When it comes to “tucking in” your child for the night, these are the moments to consider.

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Trina Greenfield - Adoption Author

About the Author:
Trina Greenfield is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina does not run an adoption agency. Her website is strictly information-based, so she is able to provide unbiased, credible information that she hopes will help guide those along their journey.