The holiday season can be, and often is, a stress-filled time of year. This can be especially so for foster parents who are trying to cope with the behaviors of the traumatized children who are in their care. Many of these children will escalate in their behaviors around the holidays, or exhibit behaviors not previously seen before. Top that with excited, active children out on school break and you have the makings of complete pandemonium.
If you are looking for a way to keep them active and out of trouble – and to ease some of the mixed emotions they may be experiencing this time of year – here are some tips and ideas to make your life, and theirs, a little easier.
Make a Schedule
A schedule, even a simple one, can make the difference between chaos and order. This way the children know what to expect and gives them a sense of control. Switching activities every 30 to 45 minutes also helps to keep boredom at bay.
Arts and Crafts
Keep hands busy with arts and crafts projects. There are companies who make projects, pre-cut and ready for assembly. Also, try your local library or search online for easy, fun, and inexpensive craft projects. Often these can be made out of materials you already have on hand.
Some ideas are:
- Cut snowflakes out of paper and hang.
- Use black or blue construction paper and white chalk to draw winter scenes and snowmen.
- String popcorn, cranberries or link together construction paper links to decorate your tree.
- Make homemade Christmas ornaments.
- Make homemade Christmas gifts for birth or foster family, friends, teachers, social workers.
- Search online for free holiday coloring pages, mazes, and other fun pages.
Bake or Cook Together
A great way to bond and teach important life skills at the same time. Bake cookies to decorate or make candies to give away.
A lifebook is similar to a scrapbook. It can be as easy or as elaborate as you want to make it. Include birth family information, record important events in their lives and the foster homes that they have been in, and let them draw pictures or write stories and poems for it.
It may not be all fun and games, but work does build character (if kept in prospective) and gives the child a sense of satisfaction when the job is well done. Praise liberally, even when done imperfectly. Do not accept sloppy, half-hearted work either. Do take the time to invest in their lives by training how to work and how to do a job well. These are important life skills that need to be learned by every child.
Volunteering teaches them to look outside themselves and to empathize with others who are suffering. It is also a great way to teach good work ethics and build self-esteem.
- Veterinarian Clinic or Humane Shelter
- Nursing Home
- Homeless Shelter
- Social Services Center