Wholeness Healing Today

After The Holidays

The stockings are down from the chimney so soon, with candy eaten and left-over foods abounding. As parents we may be wondering how we survived yet another holiday season. The holidays can be very difficult times for foster and adopted children as they bring up memories of what was, or what should have been, and often you as the caretaker end up as the recipient of the emotions that come barreling out of your children. They can be difficult for children, in general, as schedules change, diets are out of balance, and everyone is worn low from all the extra activities.
As a parent, I would suggest that you quickly put your children back on a schedule that allows them the structure they need to reestablish their equilibrium. Children respond to limits with some inner sense of relief. Limits signal to the child that you as the parents are strong and able and will keep the child in check even during times of chaos like the holidays. Yes, the child may not appear to like it and you may have to be the “bad guy”, but deep down, this is what children will respond to best.

So, set up the structure. Start first by getting your child up at a decent hour in the a.m. This will naturally lead to the ability to put them to bed at their normal hour. Also, it will help you transition the children back to their school schedule quite naturally.

At bedtime, implement their bedtime ritual. If you don’t have one, now would be a good time to start one. Bedtime rituals enable the child to naturally start to settle down and prepare for going to sleep. Ideas of bedtime rituals can include snack time, followed by bath time, brushing teeth, and then meeting you in their bed for their nightly bedtime story. If you follow the same routine nightly, your child will respond favorably to the ritual, helping to teach him/her how to modulate emotions and behaviors and prepare to settle down.

If your children received too many gifts and you sense that they are over-stimulated with them, consider putting some of them up and rotating them later on with some of the other new toys. This will allow the toys to be better taken care of and appreciated. Keep things simple for your children as too much of anything is not good for our children.

And finally and perhaps most importantly, help your children “fill” their time with activities that will be “filling” for their hearts. Spend time during the vacation doing nurturing things such as having hot chocolate by the fire after playing in the snow, reading to your children, or listening to them read to you, baking together or preparing the dinner meals together allowing the child to plan the menu and surprising the family with his/her creation all done with your help (and time) together.

Other ideas for filling the hearts of your children this holiday season might include family night where you play card or board games together or watch movies. Make “time together” as you all sit down to work on thank-you notes to those people who gifted them this year. Bring out the art materials and allow your children to get creative in the notes they send. Anchor the holiday season by making a family scrapbook together of this time. This can be quite therapeutic for everyone as you reminisce about the funny things that happened, or the special time together with grandpa and grandma.

Teach your children that the time together is what will fill their hearts; spend time with them helping them fill until their hearts are content.□

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  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
    Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner

  • Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.


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