Children and Young People Halloween Uncategorized

Halloween and Foster Care

Halloween and Foster Care

History Of Halloween

The ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain—pronounced sow-in—is where Halloween originated. November 1st was the celebration of the new year for the Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in what is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France. This day signalled the end of summer and the harvest as well as the start of the gloomy, chilly winter, a season that was traditionally linked to fatalities among humans. The Celts held that the line separating the worlds of the living and the dead blurred on the eve of the new year. They celebrated Samhain on the evening of 31st October, a time when it was thought that the spirits of the deceased made a comeback to earth. Celts believed that the otherworldly spirits not only caused mischief and harmed crops, but also facilitated the ability of the Druids, or Celtic priests, to prophesy. These forecasts were a major source of solace for a people who were totally reliant on the unpredictable natural environment during the long, dark winter. The Druids constructed enormous sacred bonfires to remember the occasion, and people gathered around them to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic gods. The Celts tried to tell one other’s fortunes while dressed in costumes, which usually included animal heads and hides. Similar to Samhain, All Souls’ Day was marked by large bonfires, parades and costumes representing saints, angels and devils. The night before All Saints’ Day, the original night of Samhain in the Celtic faith, started to be termed All-Hallows Eve and, later, Halloween. The festival of All Saints’ Day was also known as All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day).

What to do if your foster child doesn’t want to celebrate Halloween?

Halloween, with its ghosts and ghouls, can cause anxiety for children in foster care who have experienced trauma. As foster parents, your role goes beyond the usual festivities; this involves creating a safe and nurturing space for these children during a potentially difficult time. We want to empower foster parents to navigate through Halloween.

Why Halloween can be scary for foster children?

For children in foster care, Halloween can trigger a myriad of fears and anxieties rooted in their past experiences.

 Loss of control: Children who have suffered psychological trauma often feel like they have lost control of their lives. The unpredictable and sometimes chaotic nature of Halloween can exacerbate these feelings, leading to increased anxiety.

 Unfamiliar environments: Giving gifts in new neighbourhoods, attending parties, or even moving around in lavishly decorated spaces can be overwhelming for foster children. These unfamiliar environments can remind them of times when their surroundings were uncertain or dangerous.

 Masks and costumes: Costumes and masks that obscure the face can be especially distressing for children who have experienced trauma. They may associate these disguises with the unknown and perceive them as potential threats.

 Loud noises and startling objects: Sudden noises, startling decorations and unexpected surprises that often accompany Halloween can trigger a fight or flight response in children who are already hypervigilant due to past trauma.

How to support your foster child during Halloween:

Open Communication: Maintain open and honest communication about Halloween festivities. Create a safe space for children to express their fears and concerns. Validate their feelings and reassure them that their feelings are understood and respected.

Gradual Exposure: Consider gradual exposure if your child is apprehensive about some aspects of Halloween. Start with lots of smaller, controlled activities and gradually introduce festive elements as your child feels more comfortable.

 Safe Spaces: Designate safe spaces in your home where children can retreat if they feel overwhelmed. Make sure these spaces contain objects that are comforting and allow the child to self-regulate.

Consult with experts: If anxiety about Halloween persists, consult with your child’s therapist or counsellor. Professionals can offer tailored strategies to address specific triggers and help children build resilience.

Giving Permission Not to Celebrate: It’s essential to recognize and respect the child’s autonomy, including their right to opt out of Halloween celebrations if they’re not interested or comfortable. Here are key considerations-Open Dialogue, Normalize Different Choices, Alternative Activities, Respect Boundaries

As foster parents, dealing with Halloween fears for children in foster care requires a thoughtful and compassionate approach. You can create a positive and calming environment by understanding underlying triggers, introducing personalized celebrations, offering support, and allowing rejection. Remember, the goal is not to abolish Halloween, but to make it a time of connection, understanding, and empowerment for the children in your care.

Alternative ways to celebrate

Personalized celebrations: Tailor your Halloween celebration to your child’s preferences and comfort level. Involve them in decision-making, whether it’s choosing decorations, costumes, or planning activities. In doing so, it creates a sense of agency and control.

Craft Together: Engage in creative and relaxing activities like carving pumpkins, making Halloween decorations, or baking themed treats. These hands-on activities bring a sense of accomplishment and general joy.

Family Traditions: Establishing new family traditions around Halloween can create a sense of continuity and belonging. These traditions can be as simple as a special movie night, a themed dinner, or storytelling sessions that focus on positive, uplifting stories.

Outfit options: Choose outfits that prioritize comfort and familiarity. Consider alternatives to full-face masks, like face paint or minimalist accessories. Let your child choose the outfit or explore non-traditional options that suit their interests.

Halloween at Sunbeam

Today, Halloween is a day filled with candy, costumes, and fun – especially for our foster children. The arrival of Halloween brings a world of enchantment and excitement to children and adults. It is a magical day that ignites the imagination and inspires creativity in children. At Sunbeam, we celebrated Halloween 2023 by hosting a Halloween event at our Luton office, where staff decorated the office and host foster families and children dressed up in their scariest costumes and enjoyed tasty treats. At our Langley office, employees participated in a pumpkin carving competition where they showed off their spookiest skills. We would like to wish all our foster families a Happy Halloween and remember to stay safe if you’ll be trick-or-treating.