Here are 7 reasons why my adopted children struggle with Christmas

Here are 7 reasons why my adopted children struggle with Christmas

I wrote this post on Boxing Day, with a glass of red wine to hand as I breathed a sigh of relief, acknowledging…..WE SURVIVED CHRISTMAS! It’s our fifth Christmas with our adopted kids, and possibly one of our toughest yet. My kids still find Christmas hard. Here are seven reasons why my adopted children struggle with Christmas.

7 reasons why my adopted children struggle with Christmas

1. Why is Christmas so hard for adopted kids?

I belong to a number of Facebook groups for parents of adopted children, and follow a handful of adoptive parents on twitter. I can safely say we were all sharing the same experience with our adopted kids in the lead up to Christmas. It was good to know I wasn’t alone and there was a place where we could share, vent and even scream!

For adopted children holiday time is a bumpy ride. Christmas holiday time means no or very little routine coupled with the joy of Christmas, a unique combination that sends my adopted children’s anxiety levels rocketing into the stratosphere.

Slap on a helping of “What Christmas present am I getting?”, add a dose of “Am I on the nice list?”(even though the Santa myth was debunked last year) I think you get the picture.

2. Feeling happy + feeling excited = stress + anxiety (even though it’s all good!)

After a full on day of non-stop fidgeting, fighting, arguing, being sent to respective rooms, being told to play on their own, shouting, telling tales, stomping off, storming off, backchat, rudeness, I shouted: “OK. It’s Christmas. We’re supposed to be happy! What is going on?”

The response: “We are happy Mum, but we am just really excited.”

You, see, it was that simple.

That overly happy feeling, it was having the same biochemical reaction as when they are worried and  anxious. Stress is just that stress, doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad.

All those happy feelings were erupting and seeping out of their bodies and exhibiting as behaviour.  It wasn’t even Christmas yet, and I was exhausted.

3. We are now entering into sensory overload

My adopted children’s senses were filled to the brim, they were flooded and overflowing with emotion.

Everywhere is all about Christmas, from November onwards the Christmas pressure has been building, till we finally we started to hit the Christmas overload point.

We have spent the last week walking on eggshells whilst dodging temper tantrum artillery fire.

4. Peak dysregulation

Crunch point was about 4pm on Christmas Eve, at which point, full-on screentime was deployed. Whatever it took to regain calm and some control of the house.

5. The tantrum, meltdown, or just total sabotage

But even the full-on deployment of screentime wasn’t enough to keep those happy excited emotions at bay, and we strayed into tantrum territory.

Load up Netflix, two hours till, bed-time, let’s all watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

6. The big come down

And that’s the thing. There’s been such a build-up, so much expectation put into this one day, this day with so many connotations, and unsaid assumptions, and when we finally hit the peak, there’s only one way to go…….down!

Run for cover!

7. Unresolved emotions

And this was, and is,  a large part of why Christmas is so hard in our household.

There are so many unresolved emotions. My children have experienced so much. People made big decisions about their lives. And these still have huge ramifications that continue to this day. For small children, this is just too hard to understand.

It’s not easy to explain the complexity of their lives. To deal with their tidal wave of emotions.  I struggle to pick up the pieces of their little-shattered lives.

I just hope I can be better get prepared next year!

But on the bright side, WE SURVIVED CHRISTMAS! And I wish you a truly awesome 2018!

Photo credit: John Flannery courtesy of Flickr

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