After such a challenging year, most of us will be looking forward to a enjoying a relaxed, fun Christmas. Of course, for most of us Christmas 2020 is likely to be quite different from what we would usually expect and will come with questions attached around seeing friends and family and keeping the season special.

Many of us will be opting to meet up with loved ones online using Zoom, Teams or one many free online, multi-player games and quizzes, such as Skribblio. This will help prevent children having feeling of isolation. Alternatively, a socially distanced walk with people from another household is always a good idea during the festive period to get some fresh air and exercise and allow children to let off steam.

There are still festive events taking place around our regions, including drive-in pantomimes and Christmas movies, but most children will be just as happy with games and activities with their families at home. For adopted children, especially those in the early years of their placement, it can be better to keep celebrations low-key. Taking a more measured approach to the festive season is likely to mean that children and adults alike are is less stressed and enjoy themselves more. Here are our adoption support team’s top tips for coping with Christmas.

  • See behaviour as communication. At this time of year, you might see an increase in adverse behaviour, such as emotional outbursts, being withdrawn or night terrors. Try not to react to the behaviour you see but think about what is going on emotionally for your child. Try to understand it in the context of their history.
  • Stay connected to your child emotionally. Remember PACE (Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity, Empathy) responses and try to use “I wonder” statements. Have a quiet space already agreed where you can be together for some special time if a situation is becoming stressful.
  • Stick to a routine. The lack of routine over the Christmas holidays can make it difficult for some children to cope. Simple things like eating meals at the usual times and showing plans for each day on a visual timetable can really help.
  • Get a little fresh air, every day. Make some time each day to get outside – whatever the weather. It will help children burn off excess energy and help alleviate any anxiety.
  • Make sure opening presents is fun. For children who have trouble with impulsivity, gift exchanges can be frustrating. Try to keep things calm. To encourage children to take turns, give them a job to do, like handing a gift to each person. Unwrap the simple presents first.
  • Don’t make a meal of food. Unfamiliar foods, crackers and a flaming Christmas pudding have the potential to be unsettling for some children. Give your children food you know they like and don’t put pressure on them to try new things. Stick to a normal routine for mealtimes.
  • Take some time for self-care. It’s been a tough year, so make sure you take some time to relax, take a little time for yourself and remember that it’s your Christmas too.

Find out more information about the comprehensive, Ofsted Outstanding-rated adoption support we offer.