Sunday, December 03, 2017

Holiday Stress for Children

Children and parents look forward to the winter break from school to have a reprieve from the hectic schedule and academic demands.  During the holiday season children can experience different stressors if they are faced with family financial hardships and strained relationships from divorce or blended families.  Some children may have a parent in the military service that is deployed, or a recent family member may have passed away that is causing sorrow. Whatever the concern is in your family there are ways to support and comfort each other during this season.

Activities to relieve stress

The American Psychological Association completed a recent stress survey which reported 49% of teens felt that they were under more stress this year.  They stated that their worry was affecting the quality of their lives: 42% headaches, 49% difficulty sleeping and 39% are eating too much or too little.  There are several things parents can do to help their child feel cared for and understood. 

A younger child that has experienced a loss could draw a picture about what is making them feel sad or mad.  Then have the child verbalize their thoughts so that you can affirm their feelings. Families can gather together and play holiday music, sing carols or dance to their favorite songs to forget their worries for a while. It might be fun to visit extended family members and discuss the memories of past holidays when you are missing individuals who are no longer with you. Then bundle up to build a snowman or walk around the neighborhood to look at the decorations.  When there is a lull in the festivities take holiday pictures to send to family members that are not present and let them know how much they are missed.  If you are artistic be creative and make an advent calendar for each family member to write the small things they are grateful for each day. This will change your thinking from what you don’t have to what you do have.  To end the holiday season your family could have a candle lighting where each child lights their own candle in memory of those who have passed or to share their hope for the New Year.

Season of hope 

The Independent Sector study (1996) reports that children who volunteer do better in school, feel more positive about themselves, and avoid risky behaviors like drugs and alcohol.  It can help them develop career goals, learn how to respect others and understand people who are different.  Children that have participated in service activities are more likely to vote, have a positive work ethic, and live a socially responsible life.  Helping others less fortunate this holiday season can make a difference in your community.  It can also make a lifelong impression on your children and family as you work together to help make your community a better place to live.

The holidays can be a lonely time for some people.  Helping others in their time of need can also make your worries much smaller.  Spread the love and joy you feel to others you encounter each day.  You can make a difference this holiday season. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed and remembered by all family members.  So, try some of those ideas to help you manage your stress.  It will be the best present you ever gave yourself.