Listen Better – Part 2
We try to plan a small activity once a week and a big one at least once a month. This increases the structure of our home because we learn to enjoy each others’ company. Family activities are one of the keys to learning to have fun together. And, seriously, fun should be one of the most important aspects to the structure of your home. Kids are much more likely to listen to you when you have a good relationship with them, and what better way to build a relationship than by doing something fun with them. This also adds to the structure of your foster home because it is one more thing that you and your foster kids and plan on and expect on a regular basis.
Family activities should be fun and productive. We have done things like service, water skiing, and playing with friends at the park. The key is letting your foster kids help with the planning of these activities, and that you enjoy the time spent together. Again, they will learn that their input is valuable and that they contribute the the structure of the home.
4. Have a Before and After School Routine
We try and do the same thing everyday before school, and right after school. This is sometimes hard because something will throw off the routine (sometimes Ben comes home late from morning basketball with his buddies, or the kids will have early morning appointments). I realize that this is another of the things that you cannot be 100% perfect in, but it is really worth doing your best. When we have had foster teenagers, one of the things that we did was to have our foster boys wake up early enough to do a quick small chore, in addition to showering and getting themselves ready for school. This was helpful because they always knew what needed to be done in the morning, and it became a routine. In fact, the chore would kind of add the structure to the morning routine, so that they were regularly on time to school.
After school, we always had our kids, our own and our foster kids, do study time. This adds to our structure because our kids know exactly what is expected of them every day. This helps structure the hours in the end of the day. Our kids know that there are only so many hours after the school day, and that one of them is spent on studying, no matter what. They also learn that a little bit of time working on school, has a big influence on their grades.
When you have a routine, your foster children will know what is expected and you won’t have to worry about fighting with them about what has to be done each day, they will just know.
5. Be Consistent
You don’t have to be perfect, but this can’t be like one of those diets that you do for a week or two, only to fall off of the wagon and completely forget about it. Like anything in life, consistency is the power behind simple little actions. If you only have your foster kids do chores once in a while, it will only add to their frustration, which will take away from your structure. If you only randomly have family meetings or family activities, they will not have the power to add to the structure of your home, your kids will not feel like they have a voice and they will not listen to you.
As you consistently build and strengthen the structure of your home, you will have a greater positive influence in the lives of the foster children that live in your home. They will learn the skills and the structure that it takes to live positive and productive lives. And, you too will enjoy the peace and consistency that added structure will bring to your home.