It feels as though the summer has flown by as we find ourselves to the end September already! For many young people, this time of year can represent an exciting new chapter in their lives, they may be starting a new school, college, university, work or an apprenticeship.
Whilst exciting for most, new beginnings for some young people can also prove anxiety-provoking. As a foster carer you are likely to know what we are talking about, but we thought we would think about potential challenges for people who find change and the unknown challenging at times.
We share a few tips to help both you and your foster child sail through these new journeys and make them positive experiences:
Initiating an open conversation can make such a huge difference to the children in your care and your relationship with each other. Most of us at some stage will have said to a child – “I bet you can’t wait to get back to school to see all your friends” or “look how smart you look in your uniform – I bet you are really excited to go back?” Whilst we mean well, this cold potentially make a hidden anxiety even harder to share.
Instead, why not try using open questions? Perhaps ask them how they feel about the new school year or how they imagine this will be?
Creating a safe, comfortable space to enable a young person to talk and be listened to helps to ensure you can collaboratively address any concerns they may have and strengthen the bond between you.
Sadly many of the young people we care for have had little experience of being celebrated. You may find that focusing on their achievements whether this is attendance, grades, making friends, being kind to peers etc can increase the positive emotions associated with change and development and could boost their confidence and self-esteem.
Why not try establishing a new tradition with your young person to enable them to celebrate new chapters in their lives. For instance, support them to begin collecting something they are interested in and use this to reward them for every full week of school attendance for instance. Or, if they receive a positive school report, this could mean they choose a day out. Rewards do not have to be extravagant, it could be that on a Friday, the young person gets to choose the dinner menu for instance if they have had a positive week in school. Rewards and rituals can help a young person to feel excitement rather than anxiety about new chapters in their lives.
Entering a new phase in life can present an opportunity to reflect on how far you have come and how much you have achieved. Try initiating an open conversation about this to support your child/young person to identify their successes and view the journey ahead as an exciting development from what has gone before.