Imagine your new foster son has just come in the door. His name is Eric, he is ten years old, and is clutching a paper sack holding everything he owns. Not much. You greet him warmly and tell him he is welcome. But you don’t really know him. All you have to go by are your expectations. Here are a few thoughts you might consider.
He has few if any friends at this moment. He may feel that his parents have deserted him. He may have been ignored or even treated as bad by his teachers. Teased by peers. He will find it hard to trust you.
He knows that he is a tweener, a temp, in transit. He will not have a sense of belonging. It may be a long time before he feels at home.
Any expectation of Eric’s comes from his earlier life experiences, a far more powerful teacher than any mere words that you may say to reassure him. He is a survivor of the school of hard knocks. He has been neglected and/or abused. He may have learned to lie and steal. nd is probably an expert at conning people.
He may appear cocky, exuding the appearance of self-confidence. That is all bluster and fake. The opposite is also a possibility. He may initially appear subservient and guarded. Almost certainly, in either case, he has a very low appreciation of himself, his talents, his worth.
What makes him happy? Like most boys his age, he probably likes junk food and playing on a hand-held device. He will have a strong need for adult attention which he may express in contradictory ways: either by some misbehavior or by stubborn silence and “teasing” you with minimal responses to get you to quiz him.
So how might you respond to this strange new visitor. In general, be patient. Avoid lecturing him. Provide the basic good meals and shelter and help with homework. Wait a few weeks to get to know him better while he tries out his repertoire of ways to connect. And read my next blog for more specific suggestions.