Taking care of teenagers is no easy task; especially if you’ve never done it before, or if they are not your children. But sometimes, this is not a responsibility which we can shy away from. If you are facing a situation where you have to temporarily foster a teenager here, and are feeling a little overwhelmed, then the below advice and suggestion from our experts are just for you…!
Be connected with your social worker and service – This is vital not only to help the child, but also to make sure you don’t feel overwhelmed by the task.
Take care of yourself – it’s not possible to look after children, unless you take good care of yourself too. Be sure you’re paying attention to your body and mind. If you feel, at any point that you are reaching a breaking point, even if it’s because of the behavior of your foster child, then take a break. Make use of respite care—the children too can benefit from a brief change of place.
Take one day at a time – this is great advice; especially if you don’t know how long you will be fostering the teenagers. Work on problems in a daily basis, rather than having long term plans.
Make sure they have the basics – often children have to leave their homes in a rush, and don’t pack properly. This means they might be even lacking the basic things. Make sure your teenager has these things. As they might not be willing to ask for them, you might have to be a little observant and figure this out yourself.
Be prepared to listen – this is one of the primary requirement from foster parents in Victoria. As teenagers count themselves as adults, you cannot “take care” of them. Open the communication line with them. Let them know you are willing to listen to anything they want to say; be it their problems or their frustrations.
Be prepared for the mental as well as the physical complications – if your teenager was abused in his home, chances are that he may need help mentally as well as physically. This will be taxing for both of you, but it needs to be dealt with. Be gentle with him, but insist that it has to be done. Having a good connection and communication with him will help here.
Get down to their age – while it’s expected that you behave like the adult, it’s alright if you get down to their age once in a while too. Have fun with them.
Try not to introduce too many new things – as this may be a temporary arrangement, it makes sense not to introduce them to too many new things. It’s also vital that you don’t force them to do things your way. Gently insist on things; trust us, this always works better with teenagers.