How to Help Your Child Through the Holidays


How to Help your Child through the HolidaysHolidays, while a time to be joyful and celebrate, can be an emotionally difficult time for children who have been adopted. Nora Sharp of A Family for Every ChildĀ provides some suggestions for helping your child get through the holiday season.

  • First and foremost, try and understand your child’s feelings. This may be difficult especially if they don’t want to open up to you and share their thoughts, but do your best to uncover why your child may be feeling sad. Assure them that they are in a safe and loving environment and let them know you are excited they are part of your family.
  • Ā Don’t aim for perfect. Throw your idea of a “perfect” holiday out the window, because it’s probably not going to happen. Understand that with a new child in your home, your family traditions may change to incorporate your child’s favorite traditions. Ask them if they made any special foods, sang specific songs, or had a favorite tradition either with their biological family or a foster family. By incorporating those into your family traditions, you are showing your child that they are an important member of your family.
  • You will also need to let go of preconceived notions of what a holiday is supposed to be. For many, it’s the time of the year you have your annual family gathering. For a newly adopted child, this may be incredibly overwhelming and stressful. If this is your child’s first year with your family, maybe re-think the major holiday gathering and plan a smaller, more intimate event with just your immediate family.
  • Try and maintain your routines. This may be difficult with days off from school and work, traveling, entertaining guests, etc. but do your best to maintain some of your daily structure. Children who have grown up in institutions/foster care thrive on consistency and routine, and if they feel like things are going out of their control they will lose control themselves. Maintaining even the simplest of routines, like the ones in the morning and nighttime, may help ease some of your child’s anxiety.
  • Allow for some quiet time. If your child is prone to becoming overstimulated, allow for some down time every day. This is important for your child to re-group and it reduces the change of outbursts.
  • Start the conversation now with your child about their feelings and expectations for the upcoming holiday season.