Small Steps, Big Changes: How to Build Healthy Habits with Foster Children


Children in foster care have often experienced significant upheaval in their lives, which can make establishing and maintaining healthy habits difficult. However, building healthy habits is essential to the physical and mental wellbeing of children in foster care, as well as their long-term success. With persistence, patience, and some creativity, foster carers can help the children in their care take small steps towards making big changes in their lives.

Create a Routine

If you are becoming a foster carer through, one of the most important things that you can do to build healthy habits with your foster child is to establish a regular routine. A routine can provide stability, predictability, and structure, which can be especially helpful for children who have experienced a lot of traumatic situations. A regular routine provides a sense of security, safety, and being in control, which in turn can make it easier for children to develop healthy habits.

Start with creating a schedule that includes regular mealtimes, time for outdoor play or exercise, time for homework, and bedtime. You may also want to include other activities to support healthy habits like creative activities, reading, or medication. Consistency is important but be flexible as needed to accommodate the child’s needs.

Start with Small Changes

Making big lifestyle changes can be challenging for anybody, especially for children who may have experienced a lot of upheaval and trauma in their lives. Instead of trying to get them to change everything all at once, start with making small steps. For example, encourage them to drink more water instead of sugary drinks by getting them a fun water bottle they’ll love using, exercise more in fun ways like joining a sports team or walking the dog together, or start a rewards chart for when they brush their teeth. Set realistic goals and use positive reinforcement to help your foster child get into new habits.

Make Healthy Eating Fun

One of the best things you can do to support the development of healthy habits in your foster child is to make healthy eating fun and enjoyable for them. Getting children excited about eating healthy foods can be a challenge at times, but there are some strategies to make it easier. For example, getting them involved in meal planning and grocery shopping can be an ideal way to make healthy eating a more enjoyable activity, while allowing you to teach them life skills like cooking and bond with them by spending time together. You can also make healthy eating more fun by presenting food in appealing, creative ways.

Be a Good Role Model

As a foster carer, you are now the main role model for the child in your care. By modelling healthy habits yourself, you can help them see the benefits of making healthy and positive choices. Let them see you exercise, eat well, practice self-care, and get plenty of sleep, for example. You can be a positive influence and help them develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Children in foster care may not have had much chance to develop healthy habits. As a foster carer, you can help them make small changes that lead to big results.

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