Staying Stress Free
The following are some ideas and tips to help kids deal with stress this holiday season:
1.) Limit television and video game time. Non- physical activities for prolonged periods of time can make children sluggish and then when it's time to get up and do things or go places, your children will be less likely to cooperate.
2.) Make sure your children get plenty of sleep during holiday breaks from school. Lack of sleep can make anyone grumpy and lead to stress-even in children. While it's tempting to give in and let them stay up late knowing they can sleep in the next day, keeping close to a regular sleep schedule during the holidays can help with stress levels.
3.) Keep any promises you make to your children during the holidays and don't make promises you know you can't keep. You children depend on you, and it's easy during the holidays to promise something, only to discover you are overextended and unable to follow through. Children struggle with the thought of Mom or Dad being undependable.
4.) Stay as close to a normal schedule as possible for regular activities such as bedtime, eating breakfast, lunch, dinner and other family time activities. Children thrive on schedules and consistency, even if you're not at home during the holidays. If you're travelling, try to stop and eat around the same times you would if you were at home. Keeping as normal a schedule as possible can help reduce stress.
5.) Avoid over consumption of sugary and snack foods. It's easy, with all the candy, meals, and cookies, to eat more unhealthy foods than usual. The holiday season is special, so some treats are acceptable, but if you limit the treats, you can also limit the stress.
6.) Don't put too much pressure on your children to be on their 'best behavior'. As a general rule, your children know they should behave when visiting someone else's house. Repeatedly reminding children how to behave shows you don't trust them, adds to worry and stress about family events, and may ensure that they will not be on their best behavior.
7.) Do not expect or force your children to hug or be physically affectionate with people they do not know. This includes family members. Just because your children are related by blood or marriage doesn't make someone less of a stranger. We spend a lot of time and energy telling our children not to trust strangers, then at the holidays, force them to kiss or hug someone they've never met - a stranger to them. This can be stressful and confusing, especially for a young child.
8.) Take the time to answer questions. If your children are annoying you with tons of questions, particularly when there are additional people in your home or you are visiting elsewhere , your children may be feeling a bit nervous or insecure. Remember you provide comfort and security.
9.) If your children are age two or older, it’s important to talk in age appropriate language and explain exactly what's going to happen. The older they are, the more you can tell them. Explain that the trip to Grandma's house takes one hour. If they can't tell time or have no concept of it, explain that it is two episodes of their favorite show long. Tell them beforehand that they will be meeting a lot of new people who are strangers to them, but it's okay because you will be close by. If you're going to stay overnight, tell your children before it happens instead of springing it on them at the last minute. If plans change, let them know as much in advance as possible.
These tips can make the holiday break more pleasant for you, your children, and your extended family.