The holidays are best spent at home. What, then, can a foster child call home? Holidays ought to be joyful occasions. But at this time of year, foster children could feel more depressed than happy. The separation from their original families is a heartbreaking reminder throughout the Christmas season.
If you want to have a happy holiday season with your foster child, follow these nine tips.
Plan your holiday schedule carefully.
Start by carefully examining your family’s schedule for the holiday season. What events and activities are you planning? Being forced to attend numerous Christmas gatherings with unknown people in unfamiliar settings will quickly become exhausting.
Consider taking it easy this year. If your calendar is too full, simplify it. Maintain your most significant traditions and individuals. Consider spreading out your activities a bit more than normal. Allow time for your foster child to rest from each major holiday event. In the midst of the chaos, don’t forget to give him some one-on-one time to underline his significance.
If there is time in your schedule, consider having your family volunteer together. Have a look at volunteer possibilities at your church, the neighborhood food bank, or an animal shelter. People who volunteer are happier and less worried. It can also assist your foster child build self-esteem and a feeling of purpose.
Preparation is key to avoiding surprises.
Your foster child will likely base her expectations on both her personal experiences and what she has seen on television when it comes to how you celebrate Christmas. It might not reflect what actually occurs in reality. She will begin to feel out of control if she is unprepared for what happens.
Prepare her by talking about the customs, activities, and family members involved in advance. Tell her what she may expect for dinner, the usual topics of conversation, and whether gifts are opened all at once or one at a time?
Show her photos from last year’s festivities. Show images of friends and family members she hasn’t met yet. She will feel more in charge and at ease throughout the festivities the better prepared she is.
Take your foster child’s customs into mind.
Perhaps your foster child has a special custom that he used to observe with his birth family. Something that reminds him of his parents or siblings. To incorporate him and his background in your holiday celebration, ask him to share something.
Ask your foster child to participate even if he is too young to recall his family’s customs or if his family didn’t observe the holidays. He probably wants to attempt a Christmas activity or dish that he watched in a movie. His sense of belonging will increase if his thoughts are included.
Allow them to grieve, but do not allow them to push you away.
As already mentioned, expect grief to show up in your foster child’s emotional outburst. They could shed a tear on Christmas morning, or face Christmas dinner being depressed and miserable.
You should keep in mind that those feelings are unrelated to you or the effort you’ve put in to making their holidays great. Don’t be surprised if she seems unappreciative of your efforts. Even if you can’t see it right now, your love and thoughtfulness have a profound effect.
During this time, your foster children could try to push you away. Allow them some breathing room if they are feeling overwhelmed. Even when they frequently say “no,” keep encouraging them to join in and never stop being present, attentive, and caring. Foster children need to be aware that someone is still devoted to them.
Develop coping strategies.
The Christmas festivities will overwhelm your foster child, especially if he is surrounded by unfamiliar faces. Make a few coping methods in advance to be ready for this. Create a private area for him to retreat to if you’re at home so he may practice these soothing exercises.
Bring some objects that will calm him if you’re visiting a relative’s home. Whatever helps him reduce stress—books, crayons, headphones, etc. Tell him where those items will be located and how to retrieve them. Be alert for any indications that he may be growing stressed. If he needs a push, help him in starting his coping process.
Contact their biological family.
Despite their unstable biological family, your foster child will miss them around the holidays. It is in their best interests to encourage them to desire to connect with them. Follow her lead in deciding how much interaction she wants.
You may help her in sending greeting cards or gifts to her birth family. Obviously, you need to confirm with the social worker that everything is done appropriately.
Encourage your foster child to participate in the Christmas preparations.
Allowing your foster child to sit out the stressful holiday preparations may appear to be a sweet gesture. Around the holidays, many foster children may feel like a responsibility or an imposition.
Foster parents create special dinners, buy them gifts, and take them out. Your child might believe that he “owes” you for all of your generosity. Allowing him to participate gives him the impression that he is making a contribution rather than just receiving aid. He feels more a part of the family as a result.
You can use the time spent getting ready for the holidays to help your foster child develop self-confidence. Give him a simple task to perform, such as icing cookies, gift-wrapping, or decorating the tree. During the celebrations, he may then see and feel proud of his work.
Set aside extra gifts for family get-togethers.
Treat your foster child the same as the other children during the family gathering. One important approach to accomplish this is to ensure that she receives roughly the same number of gifts as the other children.
There should be a roughly equal number of gifts, even though they don’t all need to be of the same monetary value. Ideally, your family will be able and willing to purchase a gift for your foster child, b ut in case there are any differences, keep a few extra wrapped presents close by.
Prepare your loved ones and friends.
Talk to your family members before your holiday festivities. They most likely mean well, but their ways of greeting your foster child may be improper. They haven’t had the same training as you. So spend the time educating them.
Consider briefly informing your family about your foster child’s history so they won’t question him at the party. Inform your family of any queries or subjects to steer clear of. They ought to generally treat him like any other young child. Do not disregard him. Do not fixate on him too much.
Ultimately, fostering children can be a very rewarding experience for the whole family. Foster parents and birthparents alike will find that these tips can help foster children feel special during the holidays, and ensure that every child gets to live out the holiday spirit.
If you are considering fostering a child in Colorado, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Courage Community Foster Care at 719.321.4319 or at kerrih@FosterCourage.com.