Self-esteem issues can be common with foster children because of the feeling of abandonment and the experiences they have had to go through. If you’re a foster parent who truly cares, then you may feel distressed if the child you foster seems to have a poor sense of self and a bad self-image. This is something that can be fixed, however, but it will take work and dedication. And it might require the help of everyone else in your household. Let’s take a look at how you can build self-esteem with your foster child.
8 Ways to Build Self-Esteem with Your Foster Child
Make Them Feel Like They’re a Part of the Family
One of the most important things, if you want to make your foster child feel truly accepted, is to treat them like everyone else in the family. This means that you should not only treat them as kindly as you do your other children, but you should also not fall into the trap of overcompensating. Children can sense when you’re being genuine and will feel different if you let them get away with things your other children can’t or if you don’t hold them to the same standards as them.
Being strict and having clear rules is very important with foster children too. This will provide them with structure and confidence and having them abide by the same rules as everyone else in the house will make them feel included. Tell them exactly what the rules of the house are and what will happen if they violate them. This will make your child feel more secure.
You should, however, give them some space so they can make their own decisions. Allowing them to make choices, even minor ones like choosing the clothes they’re going to wear in the morning, can give them a sense of control over their life and a confidence that they are in part responsible for their destiny, so don’t neglect this.
Nurture their Talents
If you notice that your foster child has a particular talent, you need to nurture it and help them develop it. If you notice that they like to draw, for instance, then try to push them towards art classes. Doing this alone could help boost their self-esteem and show them that they are great.
If you can’t spot their talent right away, try to discover it. The best way to do this is to keep an open dialogue between you and them and discuss their interests. Also, try to engage in all sorts of different activities with them, and look at the type of entertainment or content they gravitate towards.
Most children love sports, so you can try watching different sports and see which one catches their interest. If they like one, then you should see if you could enrol them in competitive or amateur sports. This could not only allow them to discover their special talent, but it will also provide them with more chances to interact with other children, which can also boost self-esteem.
Another thing you should do is encourage your child to learn new skills and let them in on your hobbies. These skills don’t have to be complex either. Teaching them something simple such as gardening, giving out presentations, changing tyres, or cooking could work wonders for their self-esteem. It will also make them more well-rounded and much more confident.
Give them Positive Feedback Whenever You Can
Try to push your child to try new things and challenge themselves. Reward skill and effort with praises, but don’t overpraise them, and be very specific. If you constantly praise them for no reason, it will take away their significance when they do something that deserves it. And, when you praise them for something very specific, they will want to continue in that direction because of your positive reinforcement.
Give them Positive Feedback Whenever You Can
Giving your child responsibilities around the house will help you integrate them into your household and will allow them to gain a sense of pride in their work. You could ask your child if they’d like to help you prepare dinner for instance or assign them different chores. This will make the child feel like an important part of your family and help them grow to be more responsible.
Teach Your Child How to Deal with Failure
Failure and how it is received will have a huge impact on a child’s self-esteem. A child that has been taught that failure is not a normal part of life will feel bad every time they fail and will be scared to take on new challenges.
This is why it is very important to teach your child that it’s not only normal but useful if they fail. Teach them that failure is better than not trying at all. They need to understand that failure is part of learning and growing and that they win the minute they try. This will make your children much more confident in their abilities and actions.
You should also try to focus on their strengths whenever they fail. If they weren’t able to complete a task but showed perseverance, for instance, then you can praise them for that. At the same time, you should look at some of the areas where they could improve and give them constructive feedback.
Be as Gentle and Affectionate as You Can
Don’t be afraid to hug and kiss your foster child when you feel that they need affection. When children feel cherished and loved unconditionally, they will start forming a better image of themselves. They will also be able to deal with adversity much better knowing that they have a parent at home that loves them no matter what.
Building self-esteem in a child takes some time and consistent effort but it is possible if you’re committed to their wellbeing. You also have to make sure that everyone in your house is on the same page and keep your ears and heart open so you can truly connect with your child and attend to their needs.
Find out more about the process of becoming a foster parent with Clifford House.