Saturday, March 10, 2012


I had a friend ask me "How do you integrate your new kids into your family". They may not have been looking for the answers that I gave, but it made me remember something.

I have only taken kids 15 months old to 4 years old. I never have gotten a baby call that panned out. Anyway, I have found with every placement when they walk through the door we almost immediately break out the play dough.

I think this has saved me many tears over the years because:

-It takes their minds off of what is going on.
Play dough is not something that I break out every day and I assume the same of most people. So it is novel to the kids, including mine I already have here.

-Everyone, even adults, can sit down and play with play dough.
It is a great way to cautiously interact with the kids without being in their face or offering them toy after toy they don't want from you.

-It is a sensory item.
Some things are just soothing...squishing play dough seems to be soothing to most kids.

I have only had one child reject the play dough immediately and he had diagnosed mental issues that I am assuming played into that. His theory was to cry...for a very long time. All my kids that did not have extreme mental issues loved the play dough.

And after play dough break out the snacks. I always assume my kids are hungry.

Just thought I would throw this out there. Do you guys have anything you do that seems to work out great for those first few hours of a new placement?


Cherub Mamma said...

Every single placement I've gotten has come after bedtime. So I've always had to balance out the process of handling all the paperwork, giving the kids a tour, playing for just a bit and then going to bed. (One intake didn't finish until 1:00am. There was no playing that night.)

This is perfectly brilliant though!!!! I will definitely file this one away. I've got a fantastic recipe for homemade play dough too that would be perfect for bigger kids. They could even help make it.

Rebecca said...

Yeah, we usually have a snack, and then baths. The children that have been place with us came VERY dirty. I like the play dough idea though.

Denver Laura said...

The last respite we had was a 4 year old. We made pizza. I bought the premade dough and we gave her a bowl of cheese and mini pepperoni and let her make her own pizza. We turned on the light in the oven so she could watch her pizza bake. It went over so well that we decided every kid we get will be making their pizza.

Mama P said...

All of ours but one have come at or after bedtime as well, so we have the lovely morning intros. That usually involves pancakes for Snugglebuggle. (A rare treat here)

This last emergency placement we had, Snugglebuggle looked at me as I carried Mister Sad out into the kitchen, threw his hands up in the air, and exclaimed "ANOTHER one? What happened to THIS one? He's just a foster, right?"

Anonymous said...

We were a straight adopt family--so only experienced the "here is your new home and family" once.. but we spent the whole day outside with sidewalk chalk and bikes and trikes! Love the playdough--it is brillant on all kinds of levels like you listed!

Plexus Prosperity Pipeline said...

Thank you so much for this post. My only placement (year long though :)), came to me right after school around 5:00...they were in an emergency placement for 5 days. Anyway, we went to Walmart to get dinner stuff and then cooked. However, I LOVE this post. I always wonder/worry about the first day/night.

Pam H. said...

Possible that child with mental issues had a sensory disorder for which play dough feels really bad to them. Anything sticky, and depending on the degree of sensory dysfunction, water, sand, etc affects them. Think textures.

I'm so glad to be reading this blog Mama Foster because I am gaining all kinds of information to help me. You and your friends have a wealth of experience and information that is so incredible! Now I know to at least try to have a first few hours plan. The class I took said that the very first thing is to meet basic needs (food, bathing, clothes, clean bed, etc.). Going forward from that though, means providing a safe, calm, getting to know each other and the play dough idea sounds like so much fun!