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How to Encourage Your Foster Child to Open Up

How to Encourage Your Foster Child to Open Up

Imagine bouncing from home to home every few months. If the thought of switching roommates every few months doesn't sound fun to you, you can understand that moving from home to home is challenging for many foster children. Since it is such a grueling experience, many foster children develop a tough exterior. As a result, it can seem hard to connect with them. However, as an adult who longs to make sure your foster child feels safe and loved, you know that it's your job to create an environment that's conducive to that. Consider the following tips for encouraging your foster child to open up.

Encourage Them to Write About Their Experiences

Keeping a journal is one of the most encouraging forms of personal expression. It allows you to take your emotions and put them on the page. Give your foster child a journal. Make sure that they know that it's a safe space for them to release their emotions. Let them know that you won't read it without their permission. Sometimes, a child just needs to be able to write out his or her thoughts without talking.

Related: TinyBuddha.com

Find Common Ground 

Take time to get to know your foster child's likes and dislikes. If there's a specific TV show or activity that they enjoy, find ways to enjoy it together. This common ground can promote a sense of familiarity and community and help you bond with each other.

Be Warm and Inviting With Your Communication

If you've ever been in a family counseling session, you know that there's so much that goes into communicating with others. You have to take your tone, body language, and intonation into account. If your facial expression doesn't match what you're saying, it can easily cause the other person to feel a sense of distrust toward you. That is why it's important to consider those factors when you're communicating with your foster child. When the child can rely on you to be warm and inviting with your communication, they will be more likely to feel at ease.

Related: PerpetualFostering.co.uk

Listen in Order to Understand

Foster children go through so much. As a result, they might have a different vantage point and perspective than you. You may be able to go through a file folder to see what they've experienced in their past; however, you don't really know the impact of what they’ve gone through has had on their life and mental state. With this knowledge, it's best to listen in order to understand. Do your best to avoid judgment. At their core, everyone wants to feel loved. When a person is heard and understood, they feel loved and accepted. Brace yourself for what you have the potential to hear. Listen in order to understand fully, and don't interrupt them as they work to get their point across.

Show Empathy

Empathy involves the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes to understand where they're coming from. Develop a habit of showing empathy by regularly expressing a sense of compassion and understanding for where your foster child is coming from. When you're able to cultivate a tradition of empathy, your foster child is more likely to open up in time.

Related: FosterFocusMag.com

You can actively show empathy by asking simple questions. Ask your foster child how their day went at school and listen for the answer. If they talk about a challenging experience, listen for the reason why it hurt them. Express sympathy for the fact that they had to experience that pain. Find out if there's anything that you can do to relieve their pain and make their day better. That is empathy, love, and concern in action.

Invite Them to Be Creative With You

There are so many activities that you can enjoy that will spark the creative genius within your foster child. Cooking, candle making, painting classes, or making a book together are a few fun activities you two can participate in together. Find out what type of creative activities they would like to try, and then make time to do those activities together.

Understand that opening up is a process, and relationships take time to develop. Do your best to come outside of yourself and think of your foster child’s needs first. When you implement these six tips and exercise patience, you'll be able to create an environment that's safe and welcoming to your new foster child.

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How to Help a Child Who is Struggling with School

How to Help a Child Who is Struggling with School

Many children struggle with attending a traditional school. Mental health issues, physical disabilities and bullying are just a few problems they may face in today's society. Here are some tips on how to make a child's school days easier to handle.

Encourage Confidence

Children often face harsh adversities in their school years. From withstanding peer pressure to struggling for good grades, school poses challenges that can take their toll on even the best of students. With the right level of self-confidence, kids may feel like they can achieve anything. Parents should see this as a chance to use their parenting skills to encourage confidence.

Complimenting them on school work or anything they do well is a great place to start. Self-belief comes with the right experiences. Kids can learn skills and make friends by joining a club or sport, doing art projects or reading books. Pay close attention to their feelings because school can be a negative place for them.

Adjust Your Expectations

Life is a lot easier for children when they aren't pressured too much by their parents. Let your children be themselves so that they don't feel stifled by you. Keep appropriate boundaries so that you both can have enough space to make progress. Adjust your expectations to a level your child feels comfortable with.

Let them know that it’s okay for them to get a low grade occasionally or feel upset once in a while. The point is that nobody's perfect. If your child struggles with schoolwork, a tutor might be helpful. Promote good study habits and positive-thinking skills and reward them when they do well.

Explore Alternatives to Public School

There are many options for children who struggle with traditional schooling. The learning environment can play a huge role in a child's feelings of success, so help them reach their highest potential. Maybe they feel uncomfortable with groups of people because they're shy or quiet. Waking up early to get on the bus could be stressful because of bullies. Watch for signs of mental health issues or unhappiness.

If it really seems like school isn't working for your child, look at alternatives to public school, like online school, homeschooling, neighborhood schooling (like homeschooling but networked with other families in the area), charter school or private school.

If school is more comfortable for your child, you'll have less stress too. School doesn't have to be a colossal struggle. Dealing with any problems now will make life more manageable in the future. Commit to a positive mindset and encourage your child to do the same.

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