Traumatized foster child copes with Holiday stress

Celebrating Holidays with Traumatized Children

Kids who have experienced trauma may have mixed feelings about the holidays, but you can make it a fun, memorable holiday season by following these tips:

  1. Practice grounding activities to assist in self-regulation. A great one is the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding countdown.
    • Start by naming things you can see? Look around the room looking for small details.
    • What are things you can feel? Pick up an object and examine the weight, texture or other physical qualities.
    • What are things you can here? Pay special attention to sounds your mind may have tuned out like distant traffic or the sound of a ticking clock.
    • Name 2 things you can smell. Try to notice the smells in the air around you.
    • Finally, what is 1 thing you can taste? Eat a piece of candy, or chew a piece of gum to focus on the flavors.
  2. Prepare the children for activities of the day.  The unknown can be overwhelming so having a plan in place can help reassure the child.
    • Let them know the plans for the day and what to expect at each plan.
    • Let them know that at any time they can take a break.
    • Bring a coping skills with you in-case a child becomes overwhelmed and needs to self-regulate.
  3. Be aware of the child’s background, culture, and history. Being placed in foster care removes a child from their home and traditions.  Are there ways you can incorporate a child’s traditions into your own home for the holidays? Maybe there is a special breakfast the child likes to eat, or a certain movie the family used to watch together.  This is a great opportunity to practice co-parenting with biological families. Ask bio parents to share a family recipe with you, or any other rituals or activities they would like the child to participate in!

Holidays can be difficult for anyone.  Practicing mindful grounding activities, planning ahead, sharing traditions and most importantly STAYING FLEXIBLE can help your family have a less-stressful holiday season with foster kids in your home!