It’s important to remember that whilst for many, Christmas is the most ‘wonderful time of the year’ for our children and young people it can be a time of heightened emotion and difficulty.
Memories of previous Christmas experiences can leave our children and young people overwhelmed with feelings of sadness and loneliness, it’s a time when many children need the support of their foster families the most.
Here are some simple steps that the team at Fostering UK have identified to help you and your young people at this time:
Understand the young person’s expectation of the ‘Christmas Experience’
Take the time before the buildup of Christmas starts to talk to your children and young people about their understanding and previous experiences of Christmas. As we know, each family has their own unique way of celebrating, whether that be leaving a carrot on the doorstep for Rudolf on Christmas Eve or attending church on Christmas day.
Remember, some young people may not have celebrated Christmas before, so may find the concept of sparkling lights, tinsel and baubles hanging from every part of the household a little overwhelming. It’s helpful to understand different Christmas traditions so that together you can build new ones!
Fostering UK provides therapeutic training for its foster carers and staff as standard, enabling everyone working with traumatised children and you people to provide the best possible care and understanding.
A visual guide
Christmas comes but once a year and don’t we all like to pack as much into this time as possible!
From Christmas fetes and school nativities to that ‘big’ Christmas shop, the list is endless but for children the lack of a normal routine can be overwhelming. It may be helpful for some children and young people to have a visual timetable so that they know the plan for the day, providing that little bit of reassurance if they forget all the exciting things you have planned.
Behavioural changes and sensory issues
Christmas can be exhausting for even the most prepared of us, it is likely that all children and young people will exhibit changes in behaviour during this time. For foster children and young people, this is especially important as the festive period may trigger feelings and worries about their parents, siblings or remind them of negative past experiences.
It’s important that children and young people know they’re safe. The identification of a safe space may be a useful tool so that children and young people know where to go if they are feeling a little overwhelmed and require support without having to ask for it.
Remember, Christmas lights, music and decorations can contribute to sensory overload, so keep this in mind when thinking about your designated safe space.
Ask for advice
The team at Fostering UK are here to support you 24/7 and whenever you need support or guidance, please contact us.