This past week, I presented on Special Challenges that Foster Kids and Foster Families Have During the Holidays. As I was preparing the presentation, it dawned on me that 75% of the information not only relates to foster kids and foster families – but to all kids, and all families.

Some points to remember:

Monitoring how much we are over-stimulating ourselves. By default, we are all over-stimulating ourselves by increasing sugary foods, holiday activities and meeting new people.  For those of the readers who struggle with sensory issues, over stimulation can also be found in the blaring holiday music found in stores or the bright holiday lights on every corner.

Tip: Be selective in the number and type of activities you choose to do.

Tip: Is it possible to skip that extra trip to the store or the additional party you have been invited to?

Tip: Simplify the gifts to meaningful gifts rather than the number of gifts.

Remembering to stay consistent.  Children (and adults) thrive in an environment that is routine (consistent) and structured. Children can struggle to remain calm when placed in chaotic environments.   Some questions to consider: What are some of the routines and structure you have in your home?  And how do those change when the holidays appear?

Tip: Limit the number of surprises by create a calendar of events for the family, remind each other of upcoming events.

Tip: Try to maintain sleep schedules (nap/bedtime) and eating habits.

Battling the holiday blues. For many, the holidays bring the thoughts of peace on earth and joyfulness. These families see the holidays as a time of celebration, family togetherness and happiness. However, for others it could bring loneliness and reflecting on past failures.  For some, the holidays can be a time for stress, acting out and sadness.  In my experience, children (and adults) who have been abused, neglected or traumatized can struggle during the holidays.  It’s important to address the issues that you or your family are struggling with.

Tip: Allow yourself or your child to see their therapist (mental health, speech, physical), instead of canceling. The holidays are a stressful time of year, this might be appointment (session) that is most needed!

Tip: Take care of yourself, while it’s the season of giving – ensure that you are giving to yourself as well.

Hope this was helpful! Enjoy the upcoming 2011 holiday season!

Best Wishes,
– Jennie


Jennie Wilson is a child and adolescent therapist. She holds the credentials of a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor