Being in a situation where you are not able to live with your parents can be the most difficult thing that a child has to face. There might be a number of reasons, health, legal or any other, why a child has to stay away from their parents. But whatever the reason might be, it is difficult for the children to face the reality and accept the change in their life.
At the age where the child should worry about what game to play or how to finish the school work, their playfulness and innocence vanishes all of a sudden when they have to take care of their own self. When the child is small, it is still easier for him/her to adjust with the environment of a foster family and get comfortable. If they are blessed with a good foster family, there still might be a chance to preserve their childhood and protect their inner child.
It is comparatively quite difficult for teenagers to cope with the situation. They are at a delicate stage when they sometimes cannot even understand their own feelings and thoughts, and due to the circumstances, they suddenly have to grow up and mature into an adult. There are certain difficulties and phases that a teenager is going through. Being their foster parent, it is your moral responsibility to understand his/her feelings and help them get through.
  • They feel betrayed by their parents who are supposed to be their guardians and make wise decisions. Growing apart from their parents causes anger and resentment amongst them.
  • They feel they are in charge of their own lives and hardly co-operate with their foster parents. They do not even try to understand the intentions of their foster parents and misinterpret everything they say or do.
  • They have set their boundaries and do not open up with anyone. This habit is very long term and creates trust issues for them even when they are adults.
  • There might be a tendency to self-harm. So foster parents have to be very careful while dealing with teenage children.
  • They might also try and indulge in the bad company and try things that they should not.

But there are little tricks and tips that might help you to deal with and handle the teenagers:

  1. Give them space: It might seem like an impossible task to handle these teenagers, but one should not give up on them. It is extremely important to keep a close eye on them without making them feel suffocated. If they are adjusting in a new situation, it is also important that you learn to be a good foster parent. Once you understand the rage of a teenage foster child, you will automatically learn the art of being patient and considerate. Moreover, if you are a new foster parent, you will slowly learn that this is the process to become a foster parent especially while dealing with a teenage child. For a teenager who has his own problems and going through a trauma might not tolerate if you keep fussing over them over little thing.    

  1. Do not Force your decisions:  Your care and concern are important for the well-being of the child, but you should try not to impose your decisions on the child. At this age, that teenager will definitely take your concern as domination. If you want them to agree with you on a particular thing, you need to politely ask them and not order. The mind of a teenage child is very reactive and they will definitely feel that you have no right to tell them what to do. You can try the idea of reverse psychology while dealing with a teenage child.    

  1. Understand their situation: As a good foster parent, you need to empathize with your foster child and understand the situation he/she is in. You should try, remember and understand the aggression and stubbornness that a teenage mind goes through. Imagine having to leave your parents and coming to live in a stranger’s house; any child would feel revolted. You should try putting yourself in their shoe for a while and then deal with them. They will also feel comfortable and open up to you once you understand their situation and give them space.  

Provide a happy environment: Without trying to force them to participate in your family activities, just give them an open and happy environment where they can feel safe. Once they feel secure and sure of the family they have come to live with, they will start opening up and participate in all the conversations and activities. You should try and be as normal with a teenage child. Being forceful, dominating, fussy, over-caring can put them off and more distant from you.
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