Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care

The Holidays with Adopted or Foster Kids Who’ve Been Exposed to Trauma

November 13, 2020 Creating a Family Season 14 Episode 45
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
The Holidays with Adopted or Foster Kids Who’ve Been Exposed to Trauma
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Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
The Holidays with Adopted or Foster Kids Who’ve Been Exposed to Trauma
Nov 13, 2020 Season 14 Episode 45
Creating a Family

Does it feel like your adopted or foster child is sabotaging the holidays? Are there more tantrums, sullenness, and anxiety during the holiday season? In this episode, we explore why holidays are difficult for kids who have been exposed to trauma and what to do about it.  We talk with Rebeccca Robotham, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Beehive Counseling & Wellness in Connecticut. She is also an adoptee and former foster child.

In this episode, we cover:

  • There are many sources of trauma for children, and many adopted and foster children have experienced trauma before they come to our homes. Trauma can include neglect, prenatal exposure, abuse, domestic violence, and the actual act of being removed from your parents.
  • How can trauma impact children both physically and emotionally?
  • What is it about the holidays that makes it hard for kids with trauma? (change in routine, lots of people, bringing up memories, over-stimulation, change in diet, distracted parents, build up of anticipation, let down after the fact…)
  • What type of behaviors might you see? (more tantrums, dysregulation, “sabotaging” the holidays, sibling bickering, depression, sullenness, anxiety, …)
  • How can families do the holidays differently to help kids who have experienced trauma?
  • Trauma in adoption and foster care
  • Adoptive Parenting/Foster Parenting Tips

Support the show (https://creatingafamily.org/donation/)

Show Notes Transcript

Does it feel like your adopted or foster child is sabotaging the holidays? Are there more tantrums, sullenness, and anxiety during the holiday season? In this episode, we explore why holidays are difficult for kids who have been exposed to trauma and what to do about it.  We talk with Rebeccca Robotham, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Beehive Counseling & Wellness in Connecticut. She is also an adoptee and former foster child.

In this episode, we cover:

  • There are many sources of trauma for children, and many adopted and foster children have experienced trauma before they come to our homes. Trauma can include neglect, prenatal exposure, abuse, domestic violence, and the actual act of being removed from your parents.
  • How can trauma impact children both physically and emotionally?
  • What is it about the holidays that makes it hard for kids with trauma? (change in routine, lots of people, bringing up memories, over-stimulation, change in diet, distracted parents, build up of anticipation, let down after the fact…)
  • What type of behaviors might you see? (more tantrums, dysregulation, “sabotaging” the holidays, sibling bickering, depression, sullenness, anxiety, …)
  • How can families do the holidays differently to help kids who have experienced trauma?
  • Trauma in adoption and foster care
  • Adoptive Parenting/Foster Parenting Tips

Support the show (https://creatingafamily.org/donation/)

* Note that this is an automatic transcription.  Please forgive the errors.

Unknown Speaker  0:00  
Welcome, everyone to Creating a Family talk about adoption and foster care. I'm Dawn Davenport, the host, but I'm also the director of Creating a Family. Some of you guys know us only as a podcast, but we are also a nonprofit organization and we have a website creatingafamily.org, where we have lots and lots of information and material that are directly relevant to you as a parent, an adoptive parent or a foster parent or a kinship parent. So pop on over to the website and check it out. Today, we're going to be talking about a very timely topic, how to do navigate the holidays with kids who've been exposed to trauma. We have had this request for the last couple of years to do a show, because so many so many of you are struggling during the holidays with your kids. We're going to be talking today with Rebecca Robotham, a licensed clinical social worker at Beehive Counseling and Wellness in the state of Connecticut. She has more than 12 years of experience in the mental health field as both a clinician as well as a clinical supervisor. She is also a registered yoga teacher through yoga Alliance. And perhaps most importantly, she was a former foster child and was eventually adopted. So she can speak to this subject from both a a clinical as well as a firsthand point of view. Welcome, Rebecca to Creating a Family.

Unknown Speaker  1:33  
Thank you for having me, Dawn, I'm so excited to be here today. 

Unknown Speaker  1:38  
well, there are so many sources, sadly enough for trauma for children. And many adoptive and foster kids have experienced trauma before they come to our homes. And we're talking about things like neglect, prenatal exposure, abuse, domestic violence, and actually just the actual fact of a child having been removed from their home or if it's international adoption removed from a child welfare institution or an orphanage. That is that in itself is traumatic. So let's start by talking about how trauma can impact kids. And I know that that could probably be that could be a course in itself a further full semester. So I'm going to ask for the criminal version here. So let's talk about how trauma can impact children.

Unknown Speaker  2:25  
Yeah, so trauma can impact children in so many different ways, both physically and emotionally. Some of the physical aspects of trauma can be their their behavioral changes, you know, whether they're clingy or crying more or having increased tantrums. Sometimes children can even get aggressive during the times if they're having our triggering moment. The other thing is children can often experience somatic symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, you can see the increase of like silkiness or anxiety or just appearing to be really down. And so I always say, for all parents like, and especially for parents who have children, adopted children, or if they're serving as foster parents to really check in with a child to find out how they're doing and what may be happening with them.

Unknown Speaker  3:24  
And to be at least if they see a change in behavior, but to be aware that trauma may be at the root of this change. Alright, so yeah, we're entering the holiday times, and times of joy times we've looked forward to oftentimes many for for many of us for the entire year. So what is it about these these holiday times, especially those concentrated in and really starting and thanks? Not starting in Halloween, really, but then moving into the Thanksgiving in October? And then many of the religious holidays in December? What is it about the holidays, that makes it hard for kids who've had trauma?

Unknown Speaker  4:02  
Yeah, so there's there's a lot of things that contribute to that, and especially with trauma, and I always explain, I used to be a program director for a foster care program. And one of the things that I really have to emphasize to foster and adoptive parents is to understand the actual or symbolic law that the children have experienced during that time. And oftentimes to not always take offense to the changes in their behavior. Because oftentimes, it is a trick it's a it's a, it's a triggering moment for them. And holidays could really create that. Think about even in our own personal lives, that sometimes holidays can remind us of all of the wonderful joys and togetherness and looking forward to being with family and friends. But it also reminds us of the loss of that we've experienced, and oftentimes, at least as adults, we we've developed the scale capacity of being Being able to say, you know, I'm not doing so well because of the holidays. And just children depending on age and development and skill level, that they're still kind of sometimes struggling with the language of being able to express that.

Unknown Speaker  5:13  
Yeah, absolutely. Another thing that I think of, is the thing about the holidays that sometimes that I look the most forward to, is a relaxing of our routines. But that relaxing of routines can be very dysregulated for a while for all kids, but in particular, for kids who have experienced trauma.

Unknown Speaker  5:36  
Absolutely the overstimulation of that just just think about tons of people coming into the house most likely changes in routine changes in diet, additional sugar, additional fat, like stuff that we normally take in moderation is a little bit different during those times. Like we have best and plentiful, you know.

Unknown Speaker  5:59  
Well, yeah. And that's part of what we look forward to and and we also sometimes kind of put some of our our family rules by the wayside. You know, if grandpa is having three slices of pie, or you know, a slice of every pie that's on the table, and then jr wants to follow suit, everybody smiles and allows it and then afterwards, Jr is bouncing off the walls are juniors throwing a tantrum and, and is perceived as a brat. But in fact, gender is on a sugar high at that point.

Unknown Speaker  6:27  
Yes, and jr probably just needs a little bit of extra space and some time to be able to cool down. So it's really important. I'm hoping with most foster and adoptive parents that they've received some training on the impacts of trauma on children, so that they can understand to not always take offense to those behaviors. Like sometimes the child isn't acting out to be acting out there. It may be, it may be a deeper issue, or they're just simply overstimulated. Think about your four year old, who's had too much candy or they're overtired. And all of a sudden they have a meltdown. Not because they're acting out, it's because they're simply tired. And they need a break.

Unknown Speaker  7:08  
Yeah, you know, and another thing I think about it for the holidays, is the unbelievable buildup of anticipation. And we as adults, feed that oftentimes because we're trying to create magical moments, so their presents wrapped under the tree or if you're celebrating Hanukkah presents wrapped, and presented and the evening, but with the anticipation that that's coming, and yet, we're not allowed to open those until the appointed time. And then there's going to be Santa Claus coming and there may be an elephant a shelf that you've got to find and, and worried about. So there's, there's all of this anticipation, and we feed it as adults oftentimes, because we think that our children will like it. But that gets that also brings I guess it's a different type of overstimulation but it also brings overstimulation,

Unknown Speaker  7:59  
yeah, that you've made a really good point and and once again, it's really important as the foster adoptive parent to really kind of check in with the child to find out what were their some of their traditions. Maybe they had traditions, or maybe they didn't have any and so they may not even know how to respond to certain things. Or maybe they come from a totally different cultural or religious background. So really, how how can you incorporate their customs and religious beliefs and into into the new families celebration and holidays? So it's really important to check in I always say that sometimes we have to be creative of how can we still surprise the child but making sure that we're meeting their needs at the same time, and understanding their needs and their customs and traditions? Mm hmm.

Unknown Speaker  8:54  
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Unknown Speaker  9:19  
b,

Unknown Speaker  9:20  
f, then cap s for support. So j BF s, that's all capitalized, and you PP o RT. Again, the coupon code to get to these courses free is going to be on that page as well. And the courses are raising resilient kids with Dr. Ken Ginsberg raising a child with ADHD to a successful and healthy adulthood with Dr. Ned Halliwell. Unexpected stresses for newly adoptive parents practical solutions to typical food issues with Dr. Kasha Rao and parenting children who they Experience trauma with Karen Buckwalter, make sure you go to the Bitly, slash j, b, f support to get information on these courses. You know, another thing that makes me squirm a little because this is pointing the finger at us parents. But another thing about the holidays is that often, we as parents are distracted, their sisters and brothers or parents coming in, there's more food to be cooked, there is the whole Gosh, should I get enough presence for, you know, I forgot to get, you know, my nieces and nephews something or let me count up the presence I've gotten for my kids. And I said all even. And then there's, there's holiday party. So we're going out more. So we as parents are not as present oftentimes during the holidays. And and that lack of presence, I would assume could also impact our children's behavior.

Unknown Speaker  11:02  
Absolutely. And so I would encourage parents to be mindful of that right? Once again, check in sometimes, it's really important for children to still validate it. And oftentimes, especially think about all the changes that they're experiencing, especially if it's a new or adoptive home, and the fears or even the misbeliefs that they may have. And so it's important to just kind of check in. And I know that gifts, and the holiday traditions are so important. But sometimes it's really just wanting to be with that parent, just maybe checking in with them and to see what it is that they need. And sometimes it's not always a gift. Sometimes it's really about spending time with that child, getting to know them a little bit better, and helping them to kind of slowly help them to feel comfortable in being a part of a new family system.

Unknown Speaker  11:59  
You know, it's interesting, I totally agree with you. I think that that most parents anticipate with brand new kids coming into the home, that they anticipate some of this behavior, I think what often catches them by surprise is when his child is not brand new. And and the one thing that we hear if I could choose one phrase that I have heard more often than not from parents is the word sabotage, they will say it feels like the child is sabotaging the holidays. And that can look like different things. And some of the things that we've heard from parents would be that on the Christmas morning, the child refuses to come down or throws a fit while everybody is opening presence, or the child runs away the day before, or it feels like that, again, the word that parents will often use is sabotage. Have you heard of that in your practice as well?

Unknown Speaker  13:03  
Absolutely. And one of the things that I really want to emphasize is that, once again, traumatized children often see things from a different lens, right trauma can really change the brain and how we look at the world around us. And so with children, because of the abuse and neglect that they've experienced that they always there's some times this fear of abandonment, and oftentimes children will sabotage a situation to see sometimes and they a lot of times it's not done consciously. It most of the time, it is done unconsciously, to see, is this person going to stick by me? In my worst moments? Will they stay there? Will they take the time to understand me. And so it's really important for the parent to kind of take that back, really to let them know, let the child know, like, Look, we are here for you, we're going to be there, we understand that this might be hard for you, but also setting the appropriate limits and boundaries with them too. Because Don't forget children, naturally, you're going to test their limits. And so there really is a balance and parenting during that time. But also really important, validating, you know, even a child that you've had in your care for a while, or you've adopted maybe even since birth. So say, you know, it seems like you're having a really hard time right now let's talk about that, and what's going on with you and we're concerned about their safety. So validating maybe how the child definitely how they're feeling, but the behaviors that you're also observing, but also kind of holding them accountable at the same time to say, look, you know, you have to stay safe. You know, it doesn't mean that, you know, just because we're telling you the things that you have to get done doesn't mean we don't love you. We're still here, we're still going to support you, but it's our job to make sure that we're keeping you safe and that will providing for your needs at the same time.

Unknown Speaker  15:03  
Mm hmm. You know, and if you think about the word sabotage it, it's implicit in that word is intent that the child to tap to sabotage something means that the person who is doing the act is intending the act. And I think it's helpful to pull back and think through all the things that we've just talked about earlier about things about the holidays, that could be triggering for kids. Absolutely, yeah, think through those things. And so shift kind of shift the mind your mindset, from sabotage to I have a kid who is struggling right now, as opposed to I have a kid who is sabotaging my holiday, and my enjoyment and kind of, you know, ruining, ruining my mellow here. So, so yeah, I think that that, that gives me doing that bit of a mind shift is a helpful thing to do.

Unknown Speaker  15:55  
Absolutely. And I would just like to add to is, make building that relationship and trust, right, so children are, you know, once again, this is not always intentional, and, and that is one of the time it isn't intentional, but children need to trust their caregivers. And so as a parent, you know, some I've heard different things of, well, you know, they're not coming to me, but it's also our responsibility to go to them, and to really try to help form a trusting relationship with that child, and to make sure that you know, it's cohesive. And if you're struggling, don't be afraid to get help. You know, this is what this is. This is, I mean, this is what I'm here for. This is what many mental health professionals are here for is to provide that support. Even during these, you know, joyous but sometimes difficult times. Mm hmm,

Unknown Speaker  16:50  
exactly.

Unknown Speaker  16:53  
Let me take a break for a moment to ask you something. Have you ever thought about what it would take to raise a child who was neglected or

Unknown Speaker  16:59  
abused in his

Unknown Speaker  17:00  
or her young life, put about a child who is coping with the brain damage caused by maternal alcohol or drug use during pregnancy, or a child born with a serious heart defect, or other physical difference or a child with sickle cell disease or HIV, each case is different, of course, but you can bet that it involves a lot of appointments with specialists and therapists, and very often challenging behaviors. Not everyone is cut out to adopt a child with one or several of these special needs. But everyone is able to help those who do so by donating to the creating a family special needs parenting Scholarship Fund, if you have $20 to give, it can make a big difference in the life of a family. And most particularly in the life of a child, go to creating a family.org slash scholarship to make your tax deductible contribution. Thank you. Okay, so now we're going to move into the practical stage of this interview. The what can parents do about it? And and I want to start by saying that, if this has, if you have a brand new kid in your home, you should be expecting that the first holiday season can be difficult. But if you're one of the people who has written us and Facebook or sent us private messages, or emails or whatever, talking about how the holidays can be difficult with your kids, what you've seen it in the past, so if nothing else, you can make a plan, you can anticipate whether your child is new, or if they've struggled in the past during the holidays, you can anticipate that they're probably going to struggle again. So I think the number one tip would be to come up with a plan of how you're going to do things differently this holiday season. So now let's move into Alright, so number one, come up with a plan. Alright, so what should be a what are some of the things that parents might do differently this year to address? Now, you've mentioned one, I'll throw that out there and it is the Find out if with if your child has had traditions prior to coming into your home, try to find out what those ways are and incorporate some. Yes. Okay. So can you think of another tip?

Unknown Speaker  19:12  
Yeah, the biggest thing that children with trauma have experienced is the muscle control. Right? A lot of decisions have been made for them without necessarily sometimes without necessarily their say. And so it's really common. Yes. So in order to really form that relationship and to and to have a plan, incorporate them into the plan, especially if the child is verbal. What is it that they would like, you know, if they're feeling unsafe, what are some things that they can do? How do you teach them skills and emotional regulation? You know, so it's, it's really finding out like I always say, to watch the behaviors, and to figure out how how do we adjust the plan or how do we incorporate the child into that so that they feel safe. And so that they feel like that they have an outlet where they can talk about their feelings so that they're feeling validated.

Unknown Speaker  20:06  
Mm hmm. Excellent. Okay, I'll throw out a tip. As much as we sometimes as parents want to let go of the routines, it is important for most children, I think, to have the basic routines kept in place, they can stand on certain nights, they can stay up later. But for the most part, bedtimes should be about the same. The times the kids wake up should be about the same. The if they take a nap, then that needs to be continued. If your habits are to have bedtime stories and prayers before bed that needs to kind of stay the same, with the exception on one night, you can bend it, but if you're going into a season, you need to be thinking in terms of maintaining the fundamentals of your routine. And if you do that, for most of the time, you could get away with things slipping for a day or two.

Unknown Speaker  21:03  
I absolutely agree. The and I would also like to add is if there's going to be a change in the routine, let the child No, say hey, today, the things may be a little bit differently, because you know, there's going to be a, b and c going on today. So you're not time I changed a little bit or you're going to go to bed a little bit later than usual. So maybe let's talk about how you can get some rest in between that, or what do you select, you might need to kind of help you feel support it during this time. If anything, you know. So once again, I children do better when they're prepared for circumstance, it's kind of the same thing as adults, right? If someone is saying we're going A, B, and C, and no one is telling you what's going on, but you just kind of have to go with the flow. Well, sometimes that's okay. But I find that most people in general do better with knowledge, right? So if I know that things are going to change a little bit, then we can kind of prepare for that.

Unknown Speaker  22:03  
Mm hmm. Excellent. Yeah. And you know, here's a nice this, even if you have not ever used our It's been a long time, a visual schedule, is sometimes you really don't have to be fancy, but a visual schedule, that is this sticky note stuck to the refrigerator that kind of outlines the basic format of the day, we're going to do this, then we're going to do this and we're going to have lunch, then everybody's going to have a quiet time. And then grandma and grandpa are going to come around three, you guys can play outside, and we're going to come in and just the basic and you can do it with pictures if your kid is is written, I mean can read, you can do it that way. Even if it seems simplistic, and you haven't done that for a while, just knowing that if your kid is struggling, having a visual routine is also very helpful.

Unknown Speaker  22:52  
I agree. Absolutely. Whether it's either written down or they have a visual that they can see. And just you remind them that you know, sometimes, but some children get really stuck to time I've noticed, especially children with like maybe ADHD or autism, they kind of struggle sometimes with like, well, you said we're going to be doing this at three o'clock. So to let them know that this in between these times, I always tell people, parents who say, you know, between three and four, we're going to be doing you know this and it might be that way you have a little wiggle room, you know, so you as a parent, you don't want to set yourself up too much, you know?

Unknown Speaker  23:28  
Yeah, yeah, exactly. You know, and yeah. You don't want to set yourself up for more problems. Because let's be honest, especially during the holidays, keeping to a really tight routine is going to be hard. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  23:40  
Yes, yes. And so give yourself a little wiggle room. That's good.

Unknown Speaker  23:44  
Okay, what about handling the buildup of anticipation? thoughts on how to handle that? The surprise element of surprises? I mean, the anticipation, the excitement of what's coming? If that's dysregulated for a child?

Unknown Speaker  24:01  
Yeah, once again, that's really about communication talking to the child, right? Some of us do really well with surprises. Right? And but then sometimes some of us don't do so well, what surprises and so finding out who your child is, right? Are they super excited about the element of surprise? Or does it make them more anxious? And if if you, if you see that it may make the child more anxious, then let them know that the surprise is going to be something positive, that it's something that they will potentially that they should enjoy? And maybe give them a little bit of hint of what it could be but not necessarily disclosing what it all is? And just really communicating with them if what are their fears around that? exploring their emotions, like are they feeling fat and theirs Have there been times where, you know they've anticipated something but have been disappointed. And so once again, And we're not sure where those emotions are coming from. But as a parent, communicate with them, talk with them, explore with them.

Unknown Speaker  25:09  
Yeah, there was a really wise mom that is part of our online support group. And one of the things that she she had a child who was in her word, sabotaging the holidays and had been doing and she was anticipating it. And she was, she realized that her child really struggled with the concept of surprise, she both had unrealistic expectations of what things might be. In other words, I mean, she was going to be getting something in her mind that the family simply didn't know she was 10, and was thinking she was going to get the newest iPhone or something along those lines. Or she just couldn't stand they've, that was how she started manifesting when she got older. But when she was younger, she was opening presents, you know, sneaking down at night opening hers opening other people's. And the mom finally realized this is a child, who for the surprise is not good. This is not it's for me, I want to see the magical moment when they open their presence on Christmas morning. This is a family celebrated Christmas. And she said that was for me, not for her. So she shifted. And she had this child, this daughter helped her wrap all the presents including her own, she wrapped the present all the siblings, she wrapped the presence, her own presence. And she said it miraculously took care of all the problems, that the child then had realistic expectations of what she was going to get. She wasn't wondering what she or what other people are going to get. And it really helped settle her down for the holidays. And the mom said it did not seem in for this particular child to in any way, decrease her enjoyment, which is what the mom was afraid of is that it wouldn't be as as fun on Christmas morning. And she said actually, it seemed to be almost more fun for this child to anticipate what other people were going to be opening or to guess which are the present she was going to be opening was what? So anyway, I throw that out there is that sometimes we're doing things for ourselves as parents because we want the magical moment for our kids. But it really isn't what's best for our child.

Unknown Speaker  27:13  
Absolutely, and smart and creative Mom, I actually really appreciate her thought process. And her idea of doing that. Because once again, the holidays, especially for children, it's less about the adults, and it's more about them. And so finding out once again, what is it that they want, you know how many times children and foster and who've been removed from their families and no one has ever asked them? What is it that you want? What makes you what what would make you feel okay, what would make you feel safe during this time? What would lessen your anxiety during this time? You know, it's really kind of once again, getting to know the child, I always say the as a psychotherapist, one of the best skills that we can have as therapists is really engagement. And so finding ways to engage your child finding ways to support your child. And I love the idea that that mom did that was awesome.

Unknown Speaker  28:07  
And sometimes we have to be a sleuth, because our children may not be able to articulate what it is they're feeling but but this mom was able to do was Intuit it from her child's behavior. She could say that, all this all the things that were driving her crazy about her kids behavior were had to do with the child wanting to know what was happening, what wanting to know what was going on. And so it, it occurred to her. So you may have to be a sleuth, because our children, just like ourselves, and our partners are often not able to articulate exactly what we want. Absolutely, yeah. So let's talk a little bit about the the buildup of anticipation as having to do with the quantity of gifts coming into the home. Do you have a thought on that? I will share that I do I think that children shouldn't be getting huge amounts. But I I do appreciate that. There are there there are families where that is part of their tradition.

Unknown Speaker  29:04  
Yes. Once again, I always say, what is the purpose of every gift that you give? What is the purpose of it? Like? I think because in some places, children get very little, you know, or it may be something really small that they're really appreciate their love. And then you have some places in some cultures and families in countries where children are getting a surplus of gifts. Is it really needed? And you know, my answer is gonna be you know, I think it's based on the family, but I also think it's helping children to understand the purpose of receiving the gifts, but also the purpose of giving. And, and and giving can be done in so many different ways. It's not always through gifts, it can be volunteering your time, it could be doing something really kind and helpful to another person. To me that is that that is a great gift as well. So I would say especially for for most families, I know how we stress so much over purchasing gifts and making sure that everyone has thing that they need or want. But maybe talking to the child, what is something that you really, really want for the holiday, something that you've really been kind of looking at, and you're really anticipating of, you know, possibly having, and maybe doing like a list or something that's reasonable, like a couple gifts. And then also, often, maybe, especially if it's part of your family tradition, maybe taking that child shopping to see what they would want to get for someone else. Right? Because there's that joy of giving and receiving. But having like 3040 gifts, 20 gifts under the tree? I'm not quite sure if that's necessary or not. You know, I would say I would lean more to the note.

Unknown Speaker  30:53  
Yeah, I do is well, I have had discussions, again, in our Facebook support group. And I had to shift a little I mean, our family has the, again, we celebrate Christmas. So we have the, the the three wisemen brought the baby Jesus three gifts. So that's what Santa brings you. And so we kept that. So we, we keep it pretty. And then mom and dad have a wrapped gift under the tree, which is usually a book. So that we keep things pretty simple. But I did have to appreciate that for, for some fits. For some people that really did not feel at all good. Which is funny because it feels it feels so good to me, but it doesn't for everyone. But one of the things that we hear is, this is much more the case with foster parents. Everybody wants to give foster children presence over the holidays. And sometimes these families are totally inundated with tons of toys and, and often, you know, toys that are going to break and fall apart and have lots of pieces and how to families, what would you suggest for that for families? And sometimes they have the ability to say no, we really don't want, you know, especially because the presents are only coming for one or two members of children that are in the family. But other times, it's really hard for foster families to say, stand up and say we don't want all of these gifts. Because the child is saying, Yeah, I want them. So what would you suggest for foster parents who are facing an onslaught of gifts? From well meaning people, of course, for their childhood,

Unknown Speaker  32:28  
of course, and I think we sometimes we want to, I think the the thought is as well, we want to give the children's maybe stuff that they haven't had, or we want to we want to support them in that once again, it's not always about the gift. You know, it's about time, you can have all of the riches. I've seen people who are very rich, but are very sad. Right? So it really shows you that yes, it's good to have what we need, right? Because we all have meet our basic needs met. At the same time. gifts are not everything. And so it's okay for the foster parents to say especially if they realize this is getting a little too much. It's okay to set those boundaries, you know, to let because especially for foster parents, I know that most likely they're going to have a case manager or foster care worker that often comes into the home or there's going to be a lot of donations that come in, you can simply let the worker know and say, Hey, we have enough, you know, please feel free to give that to a family that may need it more. The other thing if a child has a surplus of just stuff, then even for my own child, I say we're going to clean out some things. Let's Let's pick a bunch of items that you you don't want anymore, or you're simply not using. And we're going to donate those items and I'd make the child a part of the process.

Unknown Speaker  33:58  
Well, that's a good idea. But and do it beforehand, too. I do know the family that says for every for every thing we put on the toy shelf, we have to take something off. So you can have that thing that if we're we need to clean out before Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa so that we can make room for what new things that we are going to be getting. Yeah. That I like and then yeah, could be a part of that.

Unknown Speaker  34:23  
Yeah, and don't forget about the activities too, you know, which is really important. Like times, children just want to spend time they want to have fun. You know, they want to share a meal together. They want to do a special activity together.

Unknown Speaker  34:35  
Mm hmm. Absolutely. And considering giving a gift of an activity rather than a gift of some tangible subscription to Six Flags or or a local museum that your family likes to go to a children's museum, that so all year you can appreciate that or a day shopping trip or something along those lines where it's the gift is the activity Guess a shopping trip is really not, that wouldn't be a good one because that's your that's involving a good presence. But it's the activity that we're looking for a gift of an activity or outlets. Oh, yeah, you can, you know, go to the give you a membership at a rock climbing gym, you know, that type of thing? Mm hmm. Yeah, that that would be something. I guess in summing it up, there is Oh, this goes back to what we said at the beginning of our tip section on shifting the mindset from the child child who is sabotaging to a child who is struggling. And in, the corollary to that is, don't take it personally, it's hard when your child is tantruming, or is picking with their, you know, picking on their sibling, or not going to bed or, or doing any of the other number of things. Because this is a busy time of year for you as a parent as well. And it's hard not to think that the child is doing it to you. But if we could shift our mindset from not and to to not taking it personally, it goes a long way to helping you think of implementing these other tips that you have suggested. And

Unknown Speaker  36:11  
I agree, I agree 100%. And for all parents to whether it's, you know, especially for foster and adoptive parents, don't forget to care for yourself as well. You know, I think sometimes that gets lost, because sometimes when we're able to regulate, we are much better people when we're able to regulate our own emotions, right. But if we're feeling frustrated and angry, that oftentimes gets projected on to the child's and they're just crying out for help or they're struggling with kind of identifying and regulating their own emotions. So don't forget to care for yourself during this process.

Unknown Speaker  36:47  
So that is a perfect closing note. Excellent. I couldn't agree with you more. Thank you so much, Rebecca Robotham for being with us today, Rebecca is with beehive counseling and wellness in Connecticut. And just a reminder, guys, the views expressed in this show are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the position of creating a family or partners or underwriters. Also, keep in mind that the information given in this interview is general advice. To understand how it applies to your specific situation. You need to work with your adoption or foster care professional. Thank you for joining us today. And I will see you guys next week. Hey guys, don't forget to make your $20 donation to the creating a family special needs parenting scholarship fund at creating a family.org slash scholarship. We thank you and these parents and kids. Thank you too.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai