Foster kids have moved around a lot in their lives, from house to house and family to family. Along with each of the new territories comes new rules and territory to adapt to. Because of this, a lot of change or lack of structure can cause foster kids to feel uneasy. Naturally, children learn so much at a young age – such as how to act in relationships, responsibilities, and generally what is right and wrong. Unfortunately, these simple things can be a little blurry for foster children. As foster parents, setting clear expectations and routines can do wonders in creating a good home environment and a positive space that promotes personal growth.
There are a few simple ways to do this… first, if they are older, talk to your foster children about the rules of your household, and explain why. Make a little rule chart if you feel like you need to. This is an example of setting clear expectations so there are no surprises for your little one down the road.
Secondly, to further establish a routine, try starting the kids out doing chores. Based on their age, chores can do a lot for kids in terms of building their responsibility. Create a chore chart for your little ones that allows them to check off what they’ve done in order to keep them accountable. If your kids are younger, start teaching them how to help you do dishes or fold laundry. Chores will help foster kids feel like they play a role in the family, and help create a sense of self-importance, which is important for young kids to develop- especially those that have been in foster care. The moments in teaching your kids to help out around the house is a great way to spend time with them and bond as well. Try taking your kids on weekly grocery shops with you, and show them how to build a shopping list and checking things off.
If your kids are school age, establish a bedtime, as well as boundaries around homework. Their bedtime should be the same throughout the week, so they know what to expect and can learn time management. For homework, try setting a rule about finishing homework before video games or tv. For rules like this, you may face some resistance- but building a routine schedule can help ease anxiety and create a sense of family and security. They’ll feel as though they belong in your household.
Each child is different, and some situations are more temporary or extreme than others. Understanding and doing what is best for each specific child is important, and seeing what works overtime is recommended. Introduce these rules and schedules slowly, as they can be overwhelming for some personalities. Approach the situation with love and acceptance, and good luck in establishing your new routine!