Holidays can be a difficult time of year for many children, teens and families. Stress that's easily managed at other times of the year can become overwhelming .
End-of-semester exams and pressure to get good grades, coupled with gift-buying dilemmas and stressful family get-togethers increase anxiety levels, making it difficult to cope.
Here are a few suggestions to take the edge off holiday stress:
1. Discuss holiday plans well in advance; let kids participate in decisions to the extent possible. Kids need some degree of predictability. Prolonged uncertainty, constantly changing plans or last-minute decisions can all increase stress.
2. Don’t overschedule. You may not be able to do everything or see everyone. Kids can easily get “burned out,” overtired and cranky during the holidays.
3. Make sure kids get plenty of sleep. While it may be exciting to stay up late, lack of sleep often leads to increased irritability.
4. Let kids be honest about their feelings. Don’t force them to act happy and excited if they’re feeling quiet or down. Don’t promise things you can’t produce. For example, don’t promise that a parent will be home in time for the holidays if the decision is really out of your control. Uphold and maintain family traditions even if a parent is absent. Kids count on certain traditions, which can have an important grounding effect.
5. Don’t try to compensate for an absent parent with extra gifts or toys. It won’t work. What most kids really want is time, attention and reassurance.
6. Take care of yourself. Try to avoid getting overloaded with obligations. If you feel stressed, it increases the pressure and tension on your children.
A Mindful Approach...A better feeling is just a thought away!
Betsie Saltzberg, MEd PsyD
Psychologist & Mindfulness Practitioner