We look at ways to help your foster child feel safe in your home on their first day.
Entering a new environment can be daunting – especially for a child. New places mean new rules, new rituals, and new people. This can be overwhelming for a foster child, especially if they have come from a difficult, unstable background.
As such, it’s important to ensure that your foster child feels at ease from the beginning of their time with you. Ensuring that their first day in your home is a good one is a great foundation upon which to build a lasting, trusting relationship. By following our tips below, you can learn how to build trust from the get-go, and make your foster child feel safe in your home from day one.
Make their first moments manageable
The first day in a new home is tough on a foster child – and one of the toughest aspects comes at the very start, as they try and cross the threshold of their new home. While you walk through your front door every day, this is their first time – so be mindful of making it as easy as possible for them. If possible, try and meet your foster child for the first time outside the front door. This way, you can both walk across the threshold together, as a team.
Once you’re inside, try not to overwhelm them – especially when it comes to physical greetings. You may be a hugger, but it can be too much for a foster child in a new environment to handle. Instead, try touching them lightly on the shoulder, or putting your hand on their elbow as you walk in. Keep an eye on their reactions to your physical interactions – if they’re uncomfortable, take a step back and let them adjust.
Give them a tour of the house
The most important parts of a house are the people in it – so make introducing your foster child to your partner, your kids, and your pets a top priority. This can really help them feel welcomed and may help them open up a little more. Of course, there is also the danger of overwhelming them, so try not to have too many relatives around for their first day.
Once everyone has been introduced, you can take your foster child on a tour of their new home. This is a great means of getting them settled, as they can learn the layout of their brand-new environment and get to know where everything lives.
This is also a great opportunity to subtly bring up house rules in a non-intrusive way. For example: if you’re looking into someone’s bedroom, you can use it to demonstrate your ‘no dirty clothes left on the floor’ policy. Rules are easier to understand in context, and a quiet example is less daunting than a big list.
You can end your grand tour in your foster child’s new bedroom – and you can find our tips and tricks for setting up your foster child’s bedroom here.
Make them feel at home with a welcome basket
Gifts are great at the best of times, and when things are tough, they can really help boost the spirits of your foster child. Moving in can be a distressing experience and a big box of lovely things can definitely help ease their worries.
There’s no need to go overboard with the gits – you don’t want to overwhelm them or make them feel singled out. Instead, just focus on getting some essentials, and a few personal things to show them that you’re someone they can trust.
Any combination of the following can work, and help them feel safe in your home:
- A blanket
- New pyjamas
- Fresh clothes
- A book
- Small toys
The basket is a nice way of signalling to your foster child that the home they’ve entered is warm, giving, and caring – and that they can trust you.
Connect with them over a homecooked meal
Is there anything quite like a homecooked meal? We think not. Food is a great way to connect with your foster child, especially on their first day. If possible, find out what their favourite meal is, and cook it for them on their first evening in your home.
They’ll be exhausted (and so will you), so rounding out their day with a comforting family dinner is the perfect way to ease you all into bedtime. If you’re feeling brave, you could even try and enlist help from everyone in your house, making your foster child’s first night into a true family affair!
The hustle and bustle of cooking combined with everyone sitting down to eat a meal together will create a homely and safe atmosphere for your foster child – ensuring that they feel safe and welcome in your home.
As you know by now, the first day is an important one for your foster child. It’s all about nailing that first moment, building trust, and making them feel safe in your home. Hopefully, if you follow our tips and tricks, you can help make their first day a great one.