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Five Essential Tips for a Foster-Friendly Holiday

  1. Prepare the child for get-togethers. To ease a foster child’s anxiety about meeting strangers, make them aware of what to expect when they meet your extended family and friends. Do you have a loud aunt who overshares?  Are there traditional games you play? Providing this information beforehand could help a foster child anticipate certain interactions instead of feeling blindsided. Also, see if it is possible for the child to meet your loved ones in a smaller, less intimidating environment prior to the formal gathering.
  2. Prepare your family for the child. It is important that your foster child feel like another member of the family. To do this, inform family and friends of his or her interests and sensitivities prior to meeting. It is also important that if loved ones are presenting your “bio kids” with gifts that they provide one for your foster child as well. To be safe, have a few “back-up” gifts to make up for awkward moments when a foster child may be left out of a gift exchange.
  3. Encourage visits with family. Check with your case manager to see if your foster child is able to visit his or her family during the holidays. During this sentimental time, your little one may wonder about his or her loved ones. Knowing that they are okay may help ease your foster child’s anxiety. If it is safe, do not hesitate to be an advocate for your child’s desires to see family during the holidays.
  4. Be patient. Holidays can be hard on everyone, especially children removed from their homes. Do not be surprised if they regress behaviorally, acting out as a sign of sadness or frustration. Allow your foster child the space to process complicated feelings during a sensitive time.
  5. Help them stay connected. If your case manager has deemed it appropriate, encourage your foster child to write a letter or design a card to send to loved ones. This opportunity can alleviate worry and help them to feel connected to their family during a time when loneliness is often amplified.