It’s that time of year when it seems as though we are cleaning up from one holiday, only to prepare for the next. It starts with Halloween, jumps into Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s! If any of you have stepped into any store since August, you might have noticed the décor that changes just as quickly as it’s displayed, whether it be Halloween costumes and candies, to fall décor and Thanksgiving turkeys, to Christmas trees, ornaments, presents, and treats. Let’s not forget the treats and silly glasses to wear for New Year’s Eve!
These displayed items may bring back many delightful memories of your fun filled holidays spent with friends, family, and other loved ones! Some of your fondest memories may include gathering with extended relatives and catching up on each other’s lives. You may remember the laughter, not only from catching up with one another, but also of the cousins playing together. You may remember the comforting aroma of your favorite dinner that was always at these holiday dinners. Common rituals may have taken place at these fantastic holiday memories, like your grandfather saying grace before dinner, your father always cuts the turkey, and don’t forget about the boot hockey game played between dinner and dessert!
For our adoptive youth, holidays may be filled with a variety of stress. Youth may feel an assortment of emotions – loss, guilt, or anxiety. Triggers of smell, taste, or sounds may surround the youth during holidays. Youth may have traditions with birth and/or former foster families and these activities might not be done in your home. These stressors may be displayed in a variety of behaviors and/or emotions that aren’t typical.
Support your child during this time. Be observant of any changes your child may be exhibiting. Create time and a safe place to discuss behavior changes or variations in moods and emotions. This time can be allowed to explore triggers your child may have revolving holiday time. Create conversations with your child about their favorite memories they have with their birth family/foster families and go over their Life Book with them.
Become creative with additional ways to support your child might through these busy times. Create a calming space for your child to take a break from the hustle and bustle. In this calming space, have accessible items that help your child to reregulate, such as a comfy chair, fidgets to play with, or access to music. Construct a safety plan with your family incase overwhelming feelings take over. This safety plan could include a place to sneak away for a few minutes to reregulate or a word/phrase to use in case it’s deemed to leave altogether. Consider changing up what you typically do for the holidays to ensure your child feels safe during the holiday time. If going over for a large family gathering creates too much overload, consider celebrating in a smaller and calmer way. Keep daily routines as best as possible, such as meal times and bed times. These routines can help your child remain regulated, as they’re able to know when to expect important parts of their day. Most importantly, continue to embrace your child and create holiday memories together.
For more ideas, check out Mike and Kristen Berry’s podcast, How to Help Your Child Regulate During the Holidays, at https://honestlyadoption.com/how-to-help-your-child-regulate-during-the-holidays/.
This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Darcy Solem, LBSW