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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Focus on Fostering: Limiting Holiday "Stuff"

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the holidays often include redecorating and rearranging around the house and the yard to create whatever your traditions consider festive.  This is true of Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and more.  Any holiday that the business world can convince us is better decorated than plain soon adds to the list.

The problem is that for many foster children, familiar structure is not only helpful, but crucial, to them feeling safe and secure.  All the changes that we see as temporary holiday "stuff" can be very unsettling to those who need consistency for security.  If your child is one of these, consider limiting the ways the holidays affect/change your living patterns.  [Maybe make one room the holiday room and leave the rest in their usual arrangement?] Talk out loud about it.  Let the child know that we all feel the disruption, even when it is good stuff. We know holidays are stressful for people who don't have the "Hallmark Card" family life.  But it is common to forget that even the surface business of a holiday can be an extra stressor for kids in care and for us. Kids who depend on familiar surroundings and structure for security can be undone at holiday time... when there is already more stress!

Holiday excitement and disruption is better than those caused by sadness or trauma, but it is still disruption. Sometimes all we can do is be aware and be prepared.  Hang in there!

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