By Carol Jones
We want to share our home with our foster child, but the child may not understand what that means. Many kids have shared spaces with lots of other people and nothing was ever been theirs. So when you say “this is your new home” the child might think that everything in the home is fair game. In a positive way, you need to draw lines for them early in the first visit by saying “the things in your room are yours”, “the things in my room are mine”, “I will share some things with you, but you need to ask first.
Children are fascinated by pretty or unusual things, so if you have shelves of breakable collectibles, you are taking a risk. The best thing to do is to put up breakables until you are more familiar with the foster child and what they will do or not do with pretty things on the shelf. Children don’t always think before they do things. Throwing balls in the house, picking up things they have been told not to touch are typical of all kids. Some kids will push it farther than others. Wait a while to get to know your foster child before thinking that you know what your child will do.
My husband and I bought “foster care” furniture. A kitchen table we knew we would replace after all our children were out of the house or grown enough not to damage things any more. When we had small children most decorations were not breakable, even our Christmas tree ornaments were plastic or cloth. We just put the favorites and the breakables up that year, actually for several years.
You should have some things the child can have any time, such as small granola bars or fruit or cheese sticks. You could have a bowl just for him. The rest of the food is for meals and he needs permission to have some.
Food can get complicated if you have a child that will eat 5 apples in one afternoon. You may have to limit even the healthy snacks if the child over eats dramatically. Please remember that your child may not have had access to food and may have gone without. It may take a while for their eating to “even out”. Good healthy meals three times a day will help them snack less. If this continues to be an issue, consult a therapist that knows about eating issues.