When our children are little, we assume that those early years of sleepless nights, teething and tantrums are the hardest we’ll have to cope with. But most parents will later confirm that the challenges of raising a teen are much worse. A baby loves and depends on you. At some points, a teenager will be distant, and resentful, and a teenage foster child can be much harder to get to know than a younger child would be.
Try To Understand
Bonding with a teenager is tough, especially if they are a foster child and new to your family. But we have all been there. Try to remember your own teenage years and do some research into how a teen’s mind works, the things that they may be worried about, and how their experiences differ from our own.
Taking the time to understand will help you to be more empathetic and could improve your bond. If you feel like you are empathetic, and have the skills required to foster a teen, look for fostering agencies near me to learn more and get started.
Ease Them In
A new foster placement is exciting, and you’ll probably want to show them local attractions, get to know them quickly and introduce them to your family and friends. But this can be overwhelming, especially for a teen who is used to solitude.
Take your time and ease them into your family life slowly. Focus on spending time at home, before you start to venture out and introduce new places and people.
Respect Their Boundaries
Privacy and boundaries are important to teenagers. They’ll want time alone and there will be things that they don’t want you to be part of. Try to respect this, and give them space, even if it feels like they are pulling away from you.
Find Shared Interests
Having shared interests means that you’ve always got something to talk about and to enjoy together. Even something small, like always watching specific TV shows together, or enjoying going to a favourite restaurant occasionally can help.
Try New Hobbies
Foster children all come with their own hobbies and interests. Ask about the things they like, and try to get involved if you can, asking them to show you things. Another option is finding new hobbies to try together. Look in your local area for activities you could try.
Use Technology To Your Advantage
Chances are that your teenage foster child spends more time on their phone than you’d like. But if we’re honest, don’t we all? Try to set reasonable limits, but also use their tech habits as a way to stay in touch and improve your bond. Send them funny videos, play online games together, and yes, message each other when you are in the same house.
Pick Your Battles
Sometimes, you need to let things go for the good of your relationship. Pick your battles, and fight for what is important, but don’t feel bad about relaxing the rules occasionally when things aren’t.
Having a strong bond with your teen is essential. It will help them to feel safe and loved and mean that they are more likely to share their lives with you or confide in you if they are worried.