For some parents, the holiday season is about having some festive fun and being surrounded by loved ones; however, for others, this time of the year can be really stressful and nerve-racking. As adults, we may have become resilient to the hustle and bustle of the holiday season over time, but have you ever considered that your children may have holiday stress too?!
If your child is experiencing some unusual stress (increase in irritability or anger, more crying or complaining, trouble sleeping…), these tips might help them get through the holidays:
- Stick to routines: Even though this can be a busy time of year, try your best to maintain consistency. Children feel safe and comfortable when they have a routine to follow. We recommend trying as much as possible, sticking to their exact nap times, meal times, sleep times, etc.
- Give a heads up: If possible, provide your children with a schedule for the day. This will reduce their anxiety and stress. For example: “Kids, today we will be leaving at 9 am to spend the day with grandma, we will return home at 5 o’clock for dinner and will be watching a family movie for the rest of the evening before bed at 9 pm.” If you are divorced, and the children will be spending part of the day with you and part of the day with your ex-spouse, explain it to your children the day before. You can get creative and use some drawings to help explain this if you have younger children.
- Give some breaks: Plan to have some much-needed gaps between one activity and the other. These breaks should be 15-30 minutes long. So, for example, you could go to a quiet place or head home, listen to some music, sing carols or play your child’s favourite game with them. Between tobogganing and grandma’s house, for example.
- Let your kids talk about how they feel: Let your children vent! For example, they might not like a present they received or are uncomfortable with hugs and kisses from their extended family members. It’s important to give room for their feelings & emotions and validate how they feel.
- Just say no: You don’t have to attend every invitation, see every person in your whole family or visit all your friends. However, if you have a lot of events that you do want to attend, plan to leave your children with your partner or grandparents so your children don’t feel like they are being dragged to different places all day long.
Lastly, try to make this time of the year fun for your children and yourself and your family!
For more parenting programs and information, please call our North Central Family Resource Network at 403-543-0555