Tips for Holiday Stress

With so many errands, activities and outings, it is easy to become stressed during the Holidays. Unfortunately, when we are stressed, our children likely feel it too. Here are a few tips to help families manage this time of year.

  • Start early and spread it out – Start your lists now if you haven’t already. Space out your errands and responsibilities.
  • Help children plan their purchases or creations – Children may need guidance on gift selection. Brainstorm ideas with them, help them consider the person receiving the gift. If they are making gifts, build in and help them structure their time.
  • Focus on experience and time rather than spending and things – Plan to bake cookies together, rather than buy them for class parties. Arrange outings and experiences together, rather than buy presents.
  • Focus on your family’s true meaning of the Holidays – Be it religion, faith, family or tradition, think about what is truly important to you about the Holidays and share this with your children. Strive to keep the focus throughout this time.
  • Stick to routines as much as possible – Routines help most children to cope with stress. Strive to make meal times regular and bedtimes as normal as possible.
  • Include them in the Holiday planning – Give them what choices you can. This can be as small as picking which tights they wear with their holiday dress or as big as which party to attend first. Children given choices have a sense of control which can go a long way in managing stress.
  • Remember downtime – Children benefit from having unstructured downtime for play every day. This is especially true when life is busy and chaotic.
  • Remember fun – Build in time for sledding and hot cocoa.
  • Discuss what makes us thankful, grateful and happy – Take time to reflect with your children. Discuss what is important to you and find out what is important to them.

Author: Dr. Rene Hackney

With a MA in school psychology and a PhD in developmental psychology, I founded and work as a parent educator at Parenting Playgroups. Somewhere in there I trained in the Developmental Clinic at Children's NMC and in the public schools. I have two beautiful, funny children who make me practice what I preach most everyday.

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