It’s hard to believe the holiday season is already here. Soon we’ll be singing holiday carols, shopping for loved ones and baking that Thanksgiving turkey. The holiday season offers fun activities for families and especially children. There’s plenty to do whether its baking cookies, picking out a Christmas tree or other traditions you wish to share with your little ones. How are the holidays though for children who have experienced the loss of a loved one and are in foster care?
At Counseling4Kids we see a lot of issues that are brought out because of the holidays. The holidays often set off “triggers” for our children. Oftentimes, seeing holiday images of happy families on TV commercials, print ads and even participating in traditions that may seem very normal actually cause a great sense of anxiety and discomfort to children who are undergoing their own negative feelings towards the holidays. Many of our foster parents are excited to be able to finally share some of their own family traditions with these children who have been placed in their care and are surprised when they are met with resistance or angry outbursts. Foster parents began to feel unappreciated and can’t understand why this child who was abused by their mother still longs for her during the holiday time.
Holidays can be tough for an adult but even more so for abused and neglected children who have complex feelings towards their birth parents. While they may realize they are in a better situation it still may not feel that way to them. As dysfunctional as their previous holidays may have been it is the only “normal” they know and they miss it. One way we try to help everyone cope during this season is by helping to change their expectation and re-defining what holidays mean to them. You can do this too with your own children. Ask what they would like to do instead of forcing your pre-conceived ideas of the holidays. What new tradition would you like to start for our family? This allows a child to have ownership and feel important that they too get a say in holiday traditions. And temper your expectations. Maybe you always imagined going ice skating with the entire family in December but your child could care less. Well what is an activity that child would like to do that excites them? Ask questions. Find out what your child is feeling. Start new traditions that your children are involved in creating and the holidays will mean so much more to all of you. So before you get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season take a moment to sit down with your children and find out what they would like to do together as a family