When parents are stressed during the holidays, their children will pick up those feelings and react accordingly. The following stress management tips will help both parents and children recognize holiday anxiety and feel less stress – because helping kids cope with holiday stress is the best way to enjoy the festivities!
- Infants and toddlers. At this age the upset in children’s routines and predictability are the main contributors to holiday stress. Try to schedule activities around naptimes and mealtimes. Keep bedtime routines as close to normal as possible. Watch for signs your child is becoming stressed and overly tired- fussiness, ear pulling, and clinging behaviors. Don’t forget your child’s favorite blanket or stuffed animal when you run errands or travel. A bit of home will reduce your child’s holiday anxiety.
- Preschoolers. Your little ones are now old enough to experience the excitement and anticipation of holiday celebrations. However, they can become over stimulated easily. This can lead to tears of frustration and a regression to younger behaviors such as toileting issues, eating with hands, or thumb sucking. Keep plenty of healthy snacks available when you’re out shopping or visiting to ward off hunger related tantrums. Be patient with your child during these stressful times and remember when the holidays are over things will improve.
- Older children. Extra curricular activities at school and worship during the holiday season can add a great deal of stress. Be on the lookout for signs your child is feeling anxious or overwhelmed- stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, and nervous behaviors such as nail biting. Do the best you can to see that your child is getting plenty of rest and eating regularly. Ask them to tell you how they feel and what can be done to help them be more calm and relaxed.
- Cope with your own holiday anxiety. The less holiday stress you feel, the more relaxed your children will be. Plan ahead and remain flexible. Try not to overbook your time or take on responsibilities you have no real desire to fulfill. Sit quietly and think about what the holiday really means to you then make your decisions based on your true values.