Annual celebrations including Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays and holidays are significant for children, parents and families. But for adopted children and those in foster care who have experienced abuse or neglect, these special occasions may be difficult to get through and evoke feelings of sadness, loss and grief.
As your family recognizes and celebrates these special days, remember that if a child in care is struggling with grief and other strong emotions, you may need to pause to provide some extra support.
The Institute for Attachment & Child Development suggests these four ways to provide encouragement and support to a child during these difficult days:
- Acknowledge the pain of your child’s many losses.
Encourage your child to share their feelings about the losses they have experienced and not bottle them up. This will reinforce that emotions are normal, valid and important.
- Consider talking with your child about his or her past celebrations and holidays.
If possible, gather information about the child’s previous positive memories so you can incorporate them into your current family traditions. Involve your entire family and make decisions together about how to recognize and celebrate special occasions.
- Remember there is no right or wrong way to handle special occasions.
You may choose to follow family traditions or do things a little differently. What you do one year may not be what you do the next. No matter what, be sure to do the things that are special and important for your entire family.
- Remember that your child’s negative behavior on special occasions relates to his or her grief.
Grief can cause children to behave in unacceptable ways, but it’s important understand and accept their feelings rather than to become angry with them. Work to ensure that the way you recognize and celebrate special occasions provides an opportunity for your child to heal.
Read the entire article from The Institute for Attachment & Child Development, and learn more about KVC’s work to address and treat childhood trauma.