By Eleanor Beeslaar
Being a successful foster parent involves being flexible and open to learning along the way. As a foster parent, you will be faced with unique challenges that you may not always know how to navigate right away. An important part of working through these new experiences is doing research and receiving training in areas of parenting you are less familiar with. This may look like reading books, attending classes, or watching videos about different topics relevant to parenting foster children, including: childhood trauma, child development, working with children with different types of disabilities, and attachment styles. Increasing your knowledge and seeking out information will help you be better equipped to support and nurture foster children with varying needs.
Another key element in being a successful foster parent is being an advocate for your foster child. Seeking out information about the different resources and services available to the children you care for opens up opportunities for them to receive additional support and live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives.
Successful foster parents also view the children they care for from a strengths-based perspective. By recognizing and pointing out their strengths, foster parents can help children develop and believe in their strengths, while also increasing their self-esteem. Focusing on the strengths of your foster children can also help you come up with ways to approach problems that play into those strengths, increasing the chances of a more positive outcome.
The most important part of being a successful foster parent is providing a warm, safe, structured, and nurturing environment, where children feel safe to grow and learn. By providing structure and safety, children can feel more secure, helping them feel more comfortable within your home. Foster parents must also practice patience with the children they care for, remembering that it may take time for them to adjust to a new environment, especially if they have experienced frequent and drastic changes. Finally, foster parents must be trustworthy in order to earn the trust of the children they care for. Be intentional about demonstrating trustworthy behavior, such as keeping your promises, meeting your responsibilities as a foster parent, and listening to the needs of your foster children.