The holiday season is known as the greatest time of the year, but it can also be one of the most stressful- for reasons unique to each individual. For foster children, especially those new to the system or to one particular foster home, they’ll likely find themselves missing their biological families a little extra during this time. Feelings of missing their parents and spending this special time with their families may cause them to feel a little down. Here are a few ways to address those feelings and help your foster child through this holiday season.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are so personal to families, and each one celebrates differently- with their own traditions. Foster children may be missing out on their families’ traditions and the way they would celebrate. While it’s important to encourage them to take part in your families’ festivities, introducing a few of their holiday traditions is a great way to make them feel a bit merrier this season. So, ask your child about some of their favorite holiday activities and be sure to take part in them. In turn, making an effort to really include your child in your family traditions can go a long way. 

Additionally, foster children may suffer from anxiety or sadness when meeting extended family or during large gatherings. Depending on their age, they may feel ashamed or shy of their relation to your family. Be sensitive to their feelings in the way you introduce them. It’s important not to put them in the spotlight, or make them feel forced to share their story. Keep things casual, all the while keeping them included. 

Manage your expectations and adjust accordingly. Things may be a little bit different this holiday season. All the excitement, pressure and new experiences that come with this time of year tend to stir up a lot of different emotions in children. It can be a lot to take in for a foster child- so be patient with them and put yourself in their shoes. Encourage them to talk to you about how they are feeling but as always, give them space when they need it.