The holiday season is filled with love, wishes, family, friends, sweets, festivities.....and stress. Even your child might be feeling some holiday angst! I recently referred a great article by Dr. David Fassler to one of my client's parents, 10 Tips for Helping Your Child Cope with Holiday Stress (Huffington Post, 11/24/2010). Dr. Fassler suggests:
- Discuss holiday plans well in advance, and 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.
- If you're traveling, leave plenty of extra time and bring child-friendly snacks, books, games and/or music.
- 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.
- Give kids some "downtime." Don't expect them to be "on" all the time. Leave room for some quiet activities, like listening to music, walking in the woods or reading a book.
- Make sure kids get plenty of sleep. While it may be exciting to stay up late, lack of sleep often leads to increased irritability.
- 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. Don't promise that someone will call if they're in an area with limited phone service.
- Uphold and maintain family traditions even if a parent is absent. Kids count on certain traditions, which can have an important grounding effect by letting kids know that even though some things have changed, other things have remained the same.
- Don't try and compensate for an absent parent with extra gifts or toys. It won't work. What most kids really want is time, attention and reassurance.
- Take care of yourself. Try and avoid getting overloaded with obligations. If you feel stressed, it increases the pressure and tension on your children.
I hope Dr. Fassler's suggestions are helpful. And don't forget.....mindfulness is a great stress reducer and gift this holiday season! Your presence is a present to all your loved ones!
Many wishes for a wonderful holiday season!