Holiday’s can be a stressful time for people alike, and as the season approaches, the ways in which children deal with holiday stress is often overlooked. I was able to co-host along side Rowan Radio’s Public Affairs Director, Alyssa Compa, in interviewing two remarkable authors. Nadine Briggs and Donna Shea shared a lot of useful information on behaviors to watch out for and ways in which to alleviate your child’s holiday anxiety.
- Change in Routine: Winter break is a time that most students look forward too, but following a parent’s tight schedule and being out for long hours shopping can stress children out. Another aspect of a child’s anxiety can result from the parents; children are highly susceptible and very intuitive, feeding off the parent’s level of stress.
- Holiday Parties with “Strangers”: Yes, to the parents they are family, but to young children who only see’s grandma once or twice a year, she is a stranger. Having to hug family members they do not see on regular basis can make children anxious.
- Wearing Uncomfortable Clothing: Wearing clothes like tight dresses, new shoes, ties, and any dress clothes can be uncomfortable for children. As adults, we understand the concept of self-presentation, but children can feel restless in these types of clothing. Wearing uncomfortable clothes to holiday parties can lead to misbehavior.
- Santa Clause and the Elf on the Shelf: Some children are frightened by having to sit on a strangers lap, and the idea that an Elf is sitting on a shelf watching them can give children anxiety. They can also start to feel stressed thinking that every action they make will get them on Santa’s naughty list. Using the naughty list to scare your child into behaving may only cause more anxiety for them.
Building a Toolbox
- Be Empathetic: Being able to understand that children can experience stress, just as adults, and just by being empathetic can help the child feel less anxious. Language like “I know you don’t know grandma well, but one hug would make her happy, and then you don’t need to hug her again” Also, preparing your child for the events to come is a great way to reduce anxiety.
- Teach Strategies: It’s important to note that it’s essential to teach the children coping mechanisms prior to the events. Strategies such as deep breathing exercises, creating a worry box, and giving your child an itinerary of how the holiday party will go can have a great effect on them.
- Give Accommodations: If Santa scares your child, don’t make them take a picture with him. There are other creative ways in which to take holiday pictures with your children.
Again, holidays can be a very stressful time for families, and to realize that children feel these emotions as well can go a long way! We want our holiday plans to go as smoothly as possible, and relieving your child’s anxiety can relieve yours as well!
For more information on how to help your child’s stress, check out the interview below!