20 October 2023

Creating experiences with your foster teen – activity recommendations to help build a bond

Creating experiences with your foster teen – activity recommendations to help build a bond

Did you know a child can be fostered to provide them with a safe and stable home right up until the age of 18? Teenagers may come into foster care on a temporary basis due to the illness of a family member, for example. Or because they are unable to safely stay at home due to abuse, neglect or parents struggling with addiction. 

Foster Careline is an independent fostering agency, and we help children and young people right through to their teenage years to find the right homes. Some of our foster families also offer parent and child fostering, welcoming parents and babies into their homes, when mums or dads need parenting help and guidance.

Building a bond with your fostered teen

The John Lewis advert for Christmas 2022, which featured a foster carer learning to skateboard, spotlighted how finding common ground can help young people in foster care feel more at ease. When teenagers first arrive in your home, they may not feel ready to join in with family activities. In the early days, building a bond with your foster teen may be about giving them time and space. You can let them know where you’ll be, what you’ll be doing  and show that you’re there for them.

How the ATICTM approach can help fostered teens

At Foster Careline, we are part of the Five Rivers Child Care family. Collectively we follow an Attachment and Trauma-Informed Care approach. When you foster with us, you will receive an introduction to ATICTM as part of your training. You will learn about the adverse experiences of some teens and young people, the potential impact of trauma, and how to recognise it. Routine, reliability and showing up are fundamentals of the approach. Being available for your foster teen and sticking to plans you make together will help them heal and build trust.

Planning activities when you’re fostering teens

Often, young people who come into care haven’t been able to trust those who should have loved and looked after them. They may not be used to family life as you know it or the experiences you can offer them. Foster carers often find the best approach when welcoming a new teen into their home is to observe and listen. Try and find out what they like doing without bombarding them with questions. Show an interest in getting to know the young person you’re looking after, and keep the lines of communication open. And when they’re ready and willing to join in – work together on ideas and plans. Demonstrating that you want their input can help build their confidence and show you value spending time with them. Getting teens involved in family activities sometimes needs extra time and patience. At the start, you may find it easier to set up activities in the home or nearby they can join when ready. While teenagers may not want to participate in the same activities as younger children, you might be surprised to uncover a shared interest or hobby. Here are a few areas to consider to help you create experiences with your foster teen.

Relaxing in the home

Family time on game consoles or a film night with snacks can be a great starting point for helping teens to feel more comfortable in new surroundings. Setting up a home spa night with face masks can also be an easy and inexpensive at-home activity.

Creating something together

Creating something together promotes teamwork and problem-solving and can help build confidence through realising plans and goals. For older children, craft projects and baking biscuits may not appeal much. More age-appropriate options might include:

  • planning and making dinner or a themed snack night for the family
  • getting involved in growing things in the garden or the allotment
  • working on a computer coding project together to create an animation

Trying sports and outdoor activities

If your sense of balance isn’t quite up to skateboarding, why not try cycling, basketball or football? Kicking a ball about can be a great way to get to know each other without the need to chat too much or invest in expensive equipment. 

Exploring nature

Spending time amongst greenery and near water has been shown to relieve stress. It might be easier to persuade your teen to walk by a river, visit the beach or hike if they’re into nature and want to spot some wildlife. But there are also more ‘active’ things you could try to master together like paddle boarding or kayaking. 

Be in their activity corner

Showing an interest and showing up when it matters is essential when it comes to building the self-esteem of a teen who has experienced trauma. Some of the best experiences you share with a teen you’re looking after may happen when you’re an observer rather than an active participant. By being there when it matters, you will have the opportunity to help them discover and pursue their passions and develop their talents. Day to day, this might mean taking the young person to football or cricket practice, picking them up from drama club and spectating and cheering at matches or performances. It could be as simple as making them a cosy reading corner where they can quietly read a new book they’re into. Or if you have an artist in your midst, making sure they have a sketchbook to hand. 

Finding activities for teens near you

When you want to plan suitable trips and activities for your foster family in the local area, your foster support team can be a sounding board for foster teen activities near Blackpool. At Foster Careline, we also run a calendar of events that allow you to socialise with other foster families. New foster carers are also buddied with a mentor. As experienced foster carers, mentors can often offer suggestions for suitable outdoor and indoor activities for teens in Lancashire that teens staying with them have enjoyed.

To find out what’s on and what’s new near you, try looking at your local council website and sites like:

Can I take my foster child on holiday?

Going on holiday offers lots of opportunities to create experiences with foster children of any age and is something we encourage. However, there is a little bit of planning needed. If you’d like to take your foster child on holiday abroad, you’ll need to check they have a passport and the necessary permissions to travel. Holiday travel abroad or in the UK does need to be risk assessed, which you will learn how to do with the help of your supervising social worker.

Could teen fostering be a fit for your family?

There are no particular qualifications you need to be a foster carer for teenagers. But as this post suggests, you will need to be committed to improving outcomes for teenagers in care. You’ll also need creativity, energy, and patience. 

Foster carers who welcome teens into their homes have a unique opportunity to positively impact a teenager’s experience of life as they head into adulthood. Seeing those changes can provide a massive sense of reward. You can learn more about fostering teenagers in types of fostering. To take your first step to becoming a foster carer for teenagers, you can contact our new enquiries team or call us on 0151 391 3881 for a no-obligation chat.