The holidays are an exciting and magical time. So much to celebrate. So many friends and relatives to visit. So much stress – let’s face it the holidays are hectic! All the hustle and bustle often means routines are thrown out the window taking a toll on parents and children causing anxiety and stress.
While it is next to impossible to have a stress-free holiday season, you can help your child cope with anxiety by following these simple tips:
- Manage your stress
Children can sense your stress and can be affected. It’s important to take care of yourself. Set aside time for yourself. Create code words that your partner and friends can use to let you know when you are starting to lose your cool. Get enough sleep. Avoid over indulging in food and alcohol.
- Stick to the routines
Let’s face it this one isn’t going to be easy. As tempting as it is to let kids stay up late do your best to maintain consistency. Children experience comfort through routines, so as much as possible, stick to the usual naptimes, mealtimes, and bedtimes.
- Share the schedule
Between making that original Halloween costume, making the perfect Thanksgiving dinner and finding the perfect holiday gift, your schedule is pretty full. Let your child know in advance when specific things will happen. Letting kids in on the plan for the day will help set their expectations and reduce their stress and anxiety. Open communication will keep everyone on track and avoid potential meltdowns.
- Plan some down time
Dial it back a bit. Be sure to plan break times for kids to recharge and relax. Set aside time for quiet activities like reading, playing games or talking and sharing feelings. If you notice your child’s anxiety building during, suggest a short break. Open the lines of communication by letting your child know that if she/he feels overwhelmed, it is ok to find a quiet room, ask you to talk outside, or listen to music in headphones to feel better.
- Talk about feelings
Give your child permission to come to you if he needs to get something off his chest. You can encourage your child to draw or write about whatever is making him feel sad, mad, or upset. Allowing your child to express his feelings helps reduce anxiety and helps him better understand his feelings.
- Keep kids active
Get moving! Sitting in front of the TV (or an iPad or phone) all day isn’t good for anyone. Exercise is a known stress-buster. Make sure your kids get lots of physical activity during the day, whether that’s going for a walk, playing a sport, or putting on music and dancing around the house.
- Just say no
You don’t have to attend every gathering. It’s important to focus on spending quality time with your children – creating memories, talking about what makes you thankful. Simply filling the holidays with non-stop activities can actually add to anxiety and stress taking away from the joy of the season.