Becoming a foster carer to siblings with large age gaps can be a challenge at times. When fostering children of vastly different ages, it’s important to make sure each child receives adequate individual time, attention and affection from you.
Why Fostering Siblings is a Great Idea
Seeking out siblings through a foster care agency, such as Fosterplus in Glasgow means these children can stay together during a difficult situation, instead of being separated into different homes. Keeping siblings together provides crucial emotional support and preserves important familial bonds. As their foster carer, you’ll get to witness their special bond firsthand.
Next, we will provide tips on how to balance connecting with each foster child, while making them all feel equally valued and loved.
Spend One-on-One Time with Each Child
Carve out designated blocks of one-on-one time to spend individually with each child every week. Get a babysitter for the other children, if needed. Tailor these special times around the unique interests and developmental stage of each child. For example, you might take your teenager out for a coffee to chat, then arrange a play date at the park with your toddler another day. These individual connections make children feel valued.
Have Older Children Help with Younger Siblings
Encourage your older foster children to help take care of younger siblings under your supervision. Big brothers and sisters can read bedtime stories, play games they enjoyed as little children or teach important skills like tying shoes. Not only does this help forge cross-generational bonds between the siblings, but it also gives older children positive mentoring experiences, and younger ones welcome attention.
Involve All Ages in Family Night
On a weekly or bi-weekly basis, plan a family night that appeals to the hobbies and interests of children of all ages. Arts and crafts, board games, talent shows, cooking competitions and movie nights are all potential family night themes that siblings across a wide age spectrum can enjoy together. Make concessions so activities are fun for little children but still engaging for bigger kids and teens.
Go on Age-Appropriate Family Outings
When planning family outings, choose destinations suited for a mixed-age crew. Playgrounds easily allow you to follow energetic toddlers on play structures while still conversing with an elementary schooler. Many museums feature hands-on exhibits to captivate little learners, plus sophisticated displays for older children. Zoos, mini golf courses, and family-friendly hikes are other great bets that offer universal entertainment for all ages.
Give Each Child Your Undivided Attention
During family time together, strive to directly engage with each child equally without favouritism. For example, around the dinner table ask each child about their day, opinions and interests. When watching a foster child’s sporting event or performance, be sure to also attend important games and recitals for siblings. Making each youth feel heard, seen and uniquely special will let them know your love for them is unconditional.
Parenting foster children with large age differences poses the challenge of meeting varying developmental needs. But, taking time to connect one-on-one and involving kids of all ages in family activities allows foster carers to give each child sufficient attention. With extra intention and effort, you can make a wide age range feel like an advantage through expanding perspectives and bringing added joy to the fostering experience for the whole family.