Generally, Thanksgiving is a time for family to gather, eat, laugh and enjoy each other’s company. Though, Thanksgiving can also be very chaotic, noisy and bring up weird traditions that can make a foster child in a new foster home uncomfortable, lonely or confused. Foster parents must always be aware of their foster child or children’s feelings when it comes to daily activities and even more so during the holidays. This time of the year, we focus on what we are thankful for but for foster children, they might not be feeling very thankful considering the situation they currently are in. Take this time to create a plan and discuss the plan for Thanksgiving with your family and foster children. Here are some tips to help your foster child have the best Thanksgiving they can possibly have this year!
1. Ask your foster kids about their favorite holiday traditions, and then try to incorporate them into your family. Do they like a certain food? Do they want to play a particular game? Do they have a favorite holiday movie? The key is to remain flexible and open to new possibilities this holiday season.
2. Tell them your Thanksgiving plan. Kids in general like routine, so holidays can disrupt these routines. To handle this, spell out your Thanksgiving plan to your foster child. Tell them the food you will be making, how many guest will be joining you, who the guest are and any other plans you may have. Giving them a heads up of the plans let the unknowns be known and hopefully help put some the anxiety to ease.
3. Ask your foster child to write a note to her bio parents. Now this is only if your foster child is emotionally able to handle this. If your foster child misses her bio mom or dad, writing them a note might be a great outlet for her to tell her bio parents how she feels and that she is thinking of them. She could also draw them a picture or make them a homemade craft.
4. Introduce your foster child to your guest. Take the time to tell each of your guests a little something about your foster child so they can engage her in conversation. That way she’ll be able to make new friends and feel a part of your family.
5. Create a quiet space. Foster children feel a mixture of emotions during the holidays: joy and grief, happiness and sadness, insecurity and fear. They need time and space to process their conflicting feelings. Create a quiet space somewhere in the house where they can escape to if the noise and commotion becomes too much for them.
Even if your home is small and you don’t have an extra room to designate as your “quiet space” you can still create a small nook for reading, listening to headphones, or just thinking. This might be a closet you cleared out and added a beanbag and a lamp. Or maybe you put a small tent in the corner of your bedroom and piled in pillows and sleeping bags. If you live in a nice climate, you could even pitch that tent in the backyard. Think creatively. The space doesn’t have to be large; it just has to be quiet.