We’ve all heard the opening lyrics from the popular Andy Williams holiday classic “It’s the Most Wonderful Time, of the Year” and associate it with family, friends, love, and laughter. While many of us are excited at the prospect of seeing family and friends, a foster child, unfamiliar with your family holiday traditions, might be more than a little nervous! We’ve compiled a few tips to make the holidays enjoyable for both you and your foster child!
- Introduce them to your family in advance, if possible. Meeting a lot of people at once can be overwhelming for anyone, and even more so for a child who’s new to your family. Everyone else already knows one another which can often lead to a foster child feeling shy or even left out. If you’re able to arrange for short, individual visits with family and friends leading up to the holidays, please do! This allows your child time time to process each introduction at a slower pace paving the way for a much smoother time during major holiday gatherings..
- Be mindful of their privacy and confidentiality. Don’t allow family members and friends to pry into the backstory of foster children in your care. Alert them, in advance, what topics are off-limits to avoid any potentially unpleasant incidents. Focus on the present. Have a discussion with your foster child and ask them how they would like to be introduced and what information, if any, they would like to share.
- Help them make or purchase gifts and holiday cards. As much as children love receiving gifts, like adults, they often like to give gifts and will beam with pride as they watch the gifts being opened! Ask your child to make a short list of the people they would like to purchase or make gifts for. Set a small budget and help them shop, gather gift-making supplies, and create their heartfelt gifts.
- Discover and encourage their traditions. Have a chat with your foster child and ask them about any positive holiday traditions they had prior to living with you. Ask them which traditions they would like to incorporate into your holiday traditions to help make them feel like part of the family.
All in all, the holidays should be an enjoyable time for everyone. Armed with these tips, we wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season!