For children who have experienced trauma, the holidays can be a very hard time. Today on Coffee with Chosen, Erika gives us a few thoughts on what to expect this Holiday Season.
What to Expect During the Holidays
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas everybody. Welcome back to Coffee with Chosen I’m Erika. If you’ve been around Chosen for a while, you know we have lots to say about the Holidays, and how we should approach things differently when we have children with hard histories. Traditionally, the holiday season may have been just a really personal, connected, even enchanting season for you. Where you just had so many, wonderful traditions, and it was great, but for kids who have experienced trauma the holidays can be really tough. So, I want to give you a few thoughts to help you and your child through the next few weeks.
As a foundation for all of this, I want to encourage you to adopt a new perspective of letting “picture perfect” go. So, this is my family’s Christmas card we are all smiling I managed to get the Christmas card out on time. I can assure you though that even though this looks picture perfect–this isn’t really what our family is like on a daily basis–but that’s okay because picture-perfect was something that I had to let go of a long time ago.
What our kids need from us is not a “picture-perfect holiday” they need compassion and connectedness. Our top goal needs to be to pursue our child’s heart and to be extra sensitive to how this holiday season may be harder for them. There are a few ways that we can really prioritize our children’s needs this season.
Number one: remember that your experience with this holiday season may be very different than your child’s. So, be sensitive to any loss that your child might be feeling right now. Any memories that they have that may be hard. Maybe they’re missing someone from their past–that they’d really like to connect with with a card, or a phone call. So, just be thoughtful and conscious of that. Also, realize that your traditions may be different than his but the only way you’re going to know is if you ask him. So, ask him what did you guys do for Christmas at your house and then incorporate some of those things. So that it’s special for him, but also, be prepared for him to have mixed feelings throughout all of this. Even about the things that he asked you to do, because at the end of the day it can just be really hard.
Number two: think of changes that you can make in your schedule to make it easier on your child. This is a really busy season, so make sure she knows what’s coming up each day and give your child a way out, so to speak. So, if you’re at grandma’s house, and it’s really overstimulating give her permission to come and tell you, “Mom I need a break”, and then have a plan ready. Make sure your schedule is realistic for your child.
And number three: we know that healthy snacks and hydration are super important for regulation like every day of the week but how much more so now when we’re eating so much sugar. So, this may seem small, but it’s not stay ahead of the game give your kids plenty of healthy snacks, and make sure they’re well-hydrated, especially before they go to those Christmas parties with all the cookies. Addressing these things might take a little bit of sacrifice on our part as parents. We may have to leave a party early or even skip an event that we really love, because we know it’s just going to be too much for our kids. But if our goals are compassion and connectedness then we can see that any sacrifice we make is actually paving the way toward healing. There is no greater gift that you can give your child this Christmas than your presence, and your compassion, and your empathy as a means to help him heal.