What is a perfect Christmas? What does Christmas mean to you? It means so many different things to so many people and looked after children are no different. Just think back to your own childhood and remember the special, quirky things that made Christmas so special – opening presents in your pyjamas? Leaving Santa and Rudolph a mince pie and a carrot? Being in charge of wrapping the pigs in their blankets? Watching the Christmas movie with all the family? The list could go on and on………
Being a foster carer at Christmas you have another task to think about………helping your foster child understand Christmas in your home. Again, think back to your childhood and try to imagine what Christmas would have been like if you had been separated from your family. Christmas for fostered children can invoke some very strong emotions and some of their memories and experiences may not have been very positive. Fostered children and young people can therefore become overwhelmed and sometimes intimidated by the scale of festivities and happiness in a foster home.
Children who have experienced trauma and abuse can have very low self-esteem and may not feel they deserve to be part of something so special. Their emotions and memories can be overbearing and consequently they may seek to deliberately disrupt the festivities. This is their way of seeking control and returning to an environment they feel more comfortable with.
But it is not all doom and gloom. A fostering Christmas can be a very happy, engaging time if handled correctly. The art of planning is key leading up to the big day. Explaining what will happen, checking out children’s feelings, knowing what their previous experiences have been and including them in decision-making will undoubtedly help. After all Christmas is about ‘togetherness’ and this offers a fantastic opportunity to be inclusive and build relationships.
It is undeniable that the best presents to make a fabulous fostering Christmas for our looked after children are not material things but time, attention, understanding, love and the flexibility to tweak those special, quirky things that will help a child or young person feel the fun at Christmas time.
Would you like to share your Christmas experience? We would love to speak to you about the prospect of fostering. Do not hesitate to contact us by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by telephone (01924 792 184). We look forward to hearing from you….ho, ho, ho 😊
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