The holidays are a time for gathering with loved ones and creating memories. For foster children across the country, though, the holiday season can be a bittersweet reminder of the challenges they’ve faced and the sense of belonging they may long for. Whether you're a seasoned foster parent or considering it for the first time, here are some casual tips to make the holidays extra special for both you and your kiddos.
Traditions are like the glue that holds the holiday spirit together. Sharing family traditions, and inviting your foster child to share their own, can help create a sense of familiarity and warmth. Consider blending these traditions together or creating new memories altogether.
Prepare friends and family
Let anyone you may see during the holidays know that you will have your foster child with you. If you are traveling to others’ homes, this may help with preparation beforehand. If possible, try planning a casual meeting beforehand so that your child can put names with faces and have a level of comfortability and preparedness once the holiday travels approach.
Holiday prep together
Get all of your kiddos involved in the holiday preparations. Whether it's decorating the tree, wrapping gifts or baking cookies, including them in the process allows them to take responsibility in the holiday magic and experience a sense of normalcy they crave.
Encourage (safe) visits with loved ones
Many times, kids in care still have biological family members that would be happy to stay connected with their child. If the situation is available and safe, allow your foster child to visit with their parents or other loved ones. In extenuating circumstances, be sure to follow Necco policies and practices to ensure the safety of the child. If an in-person meeting isn’t possible, encourage writing letters to family members or creating a memory book to capture milestones.
Understand sad feelings or regressive behaviors
The holiday season can be emotionally challenging for everyone but foster children may feel an increased feelings of grief, stress, or anxiety. Your foster child might distance themselves or withdraw during the holidays, even if you're providing excellent care. It's important to understand that their behavior doesn't reflect on your capabilities as a foster parent.
If this season becomes stressful or you just want a better understanding of your foster child, using counseling services may be beneficial. Our certified behavioral health professionals are available to help you and your family with whatever you may be going through. Find all of our services on our website or make a counseling appointment here.