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What a Teenage Foster Child Needs



Teenage Foster Child

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Fostering a teenage child is an opportunity to provide the support that all teens need to enter adulthood successfully. Children exit the foster care system when they turn 18 years old. Imagine a teenager in the system, who does not have a foster family, having to move out into the adult world without support. However, a foster child can still be cared for and given ample time to transition. Additionally, they can remain your family long after they have flown the nest. So, what does a foster teenage child need?


Teenagers look to their friends for acceptance that they meet with the group’s approval. But teenage foster children may have more challenges making friends, e.g., trying to break into a group midterm. This age group needs to learn how to socialise, create relationships, and set boundaries, and time is spent trying to discover who they are and what they will be as adults. You can play an important role in helping them to make friends.

But these teenagers also need acceptance from their foster career. They assume you have read their file or have knowledge of their past. Despite the challenges that they have dealt with, they must see your acceptance of them, faults and all.

Respect and Dignity

When your foster child has a burst of anger, avoid getting drawn into an argument, and instead look for what is really going on. Validate the anger and whatever else it is associated with. Show that you understand where the teen is coming from. Never do anything to make your foster child lose dignity. For example, don’t make jokes at their expense. Show respect for their skills and knowledge and praise them whenever a chance presents.

The Opportunity to Make Choices

Teenagers want to make their own choices. However, foster careers walk a fine line now between supporting and encouraging good choices and preventing bad ones. Because some foster children have faced bad experiences in life, this can be tricky and at times you may need to lean on the support of your fostering agency, such as Fostering People, to determine how best to handle each unique child. Effectively, this is all about recognising them as individuals, while taking note of their developmental ages.

The first priority is to protect them. Secondly, boundaries must be in place from day one. Thirdly, from the beginning, allow the child to make safe choices, such as their preferences for movie night, for example. Fourthly, explain why you say no. Lastly, over time, increase their freedom, while keeping to age-appropriate boundaries.

Room to Fail

Give your foster child room to fail. Everybody makes mistakes and the child needs to learn this. How you respond will determine, in great part, how they recover from it, with personality also playing a role. Continue to show acceptance and help the child understand that failure is an opportunity to learn. The lesson may be to study harder and start sooner. Teens need to understand that there are consequences. You cannot protect children from all their mistakes. But you can be there to show support.

Fostering a teenager will add immeasurable happiness to your life.

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