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Foster parent tip of the month: Making your foster child feel like part of the family

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By Dr. John DeGarmo


Dr. John DeGarmoLike all children, your foster child wants to feel like he not only belongs to your family, but that he plays an important role in your household. If your foster child does not believe that he contributes in a meaningful way in your home, he may seek someplace else to do so. This “someplace else” may not be the place where you want your child to be associated. Thus, it is vital that you encourage good behavior in your home


Find your foster child doing something well, and notice him for it. Tell him that you appreciate what he has done, thanking him for it.  This can be as simple as cleaning up a room, taking the garbage out, playing quietly in a room, completing homework, hanging up a bath towel or a number of small details that normally may go unnoticed. No matter how small the action is, it is essential to your foster child’s well-being that he feels recognized and that his actions are significant.



  • Communicate effectively. Use and develop communication skills needed to foster or adopt. Be an active listener, give clear messages and use tone of voice well. Abused and neglected children may feel worthless and may think their emotions are not worthy of being heard. Foster parents must listen in order to help build positive self-esteem.
  • Reach out to birth parents. Tell birth parents what wonderful children they have. Even if you believe the children should not go back home, you can still send pictures, talk to the parents and listen to them.
  • Talk with your foster children often about sex, and be specific. For many of these children, your talks with them may be the first time they have had this discussion. If they have been sexually abused, they will need to have counseling, as well.
  • When enrolling your foster child into a new school, deliver information to school counselors and administrators about discipline/learning disabilities. The more information they have, the smoother the transistion will be. This will also allow the school to place the child in the appropriate classes and have the right resources for the child.

For more, contact Dr. DeGarmo at, through his Facebook page or at his website.

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