Thinking you’d make a good foster parent, and actually being one, are two very different things, and while most of us like to think we could easily care for a child that isn’t ours by birth, there are certain skills a person must possess before they even consider taking up this challenging, but highly rewarding career.
To help you decide whether Apple Fostering is the right path for you to take, here are 6 skills that all successful foster parents possess:
For many children, being in care can have a profound effect on them, and they may struggle to process what’s happening; often lashing out, becoming introverted, or behaving inappropriately. To be able to truly understand the pain a child in the care system might be experiencing, you must possess empathy.
Having often gone through a great deal of trauma, from abuse and neglect to domestic violence or the loss of a loved one, many children in foster care adopt mechanisms of destruction to cope with what they’ve been through. This can result in defiance, alcohol and drug experimentation, or problems at school or in the home. Such challenging behaviour can only be dealt with by foster parents who are resilient and thick-skinned, and able to not take such things personally.
The ability to speak to children on their own level isn’t a skill everyone possesses, but it’s vital one for successful foster parents. Reading changes in behaviour and picking up on body language are both things every foster parent must be able to do, and if caring for a child with autism or limited speech, for example, they must find ways of communicating with them beyond the usual methods.
In addition to this, foster parents will also be required to communicate on a frequent basis with others within the support network of the foster child, and this can include doctors, social workers, teachers and the birth family. Your ability to listen and share your thoughts appropriately, is crucial for successful fostering.
You will undoubtedly need patience by the lorryload as a foster parent, and it’s important that not only are you able to recognize that change doesn’t happen overnight, but also that you are prepared to support the child as they go through their own, personal fostering journey, which may take weeks, months and even years. You mustn’t give up on them easily, and above all else, you must not let them down as so many others in their life may well have done.
It should go without saying that you need to be caring and kind to be a successful foster parent, but it’s worth reiterating. With so many emotions to deal with, foster children can be difficult to deal with, disruptive and often, downright horrible, but having the compassion to show them that you’ll be there for them no matter how they treat you, can help you win over their trust and set them on the path to a more rewarding, fruitful and love-filled future.
When fostering children, there are bound to be moments of friction and tension between both parties, but your ability to deal with it in a calm and understanding manner, could be the difference between a child who learns how to behave appropriately in adherence to certain boundaries, and a child who continues to act out with no consideration or respect for anyone or anything. Being able to keep your cool and apply methods of discipline that are wholly positive, are key to being a successful foster parent.