As children enter foster care they may be guarded or quiet the first few days. Each of their situations differ and they may be recovering from trauma and feel like they are unable to trust a new person. Showing empathy goes a long way with a child new to care. When trying to communicate with them you can:
*Give them space so that they can relax and get used to their surroundings.
* Respond with kindness. Take time to pause and reflect on their situation and why they could be doing or saying what they are. Active listening plays a great role in this.
*Gently remind them of what the house rules are. Some of them come from situations where rules never applied or they got severe consequences for breaking the rules. Gently communicate with them and remind them the rules and the consequences.
*Research more about their background and experiences. You are not in this alone and neither are they! Understanding more about what happened allows you to apply empathy for their situation. Even using the sentence, “I can’t imagine what you went through but I know you are very strong,” allows them to see that you care.
*Building a connection with them allows you to spend time with them and show you care. Have them teach you something, watch one of their favorite movies or even cooking their favorite meal together. Doing this with continuously build your natural empathy towards all the children that come through your doors.
It’s important to remember, they DID NOT choose to be in care or their situation. But they ARE the ones having to navigate this unchartered new territory. Empathy always goes a long way!