What You Can Do To Help Your Child Manage Stress & Anxiety During the Holidays
Everyone struggles with holiday season stress at some point. Regardless of age, we are all susceptible to pressure and the hectic pace. For a child, this annual situation can feel particularly overwhelming. If that child has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the holiday anxiety can be off the charts.
Fortunately, there are some proven techniques and tips to help you and your children navigate the season. With some patience and some advanced prep work, your family can enjoy the celebrations in a self-loving way. It’s not about eliminating stress and anxiety but rather… managing them.
6 Things You Can Do To Help Your Child Manage Stress & Anxiety During the Holidays
1. Explain and Encourage Self-Control
Self-control, in the abstract, sounds like being a party pooper. However, you can clarify to your kids that it is the path to having fun without drama. When a child is overwhelmed at, say, a holiday gathering, it can quickly escalate into a tantrum. Self-control might involve teaching them skills that encourage self-soothing, e.g.
- Yoga or other calm physical movements
- Breathing exercises
- Verbal cues
- Encouragement and statements of belief in them
2. Advance Practice
Especially when ADHD is present, it can go a long way if you literally rehearse appropriate behavior and the aforementioned self-control. For example:
- Conversation Starters: At holiday events, there is a stronger likelihood than usual for your child to interact with kids they’ve never met. Rehearse these possibilities and provide your child with a range of questions and introductions.
- Other Conversation Basics: It could be saying hello and goodbye or making eye contact. There are basics like saying “please” and “thank you” when necessary. Practice these interactions and help your child recognize them when in a social setting.
- Giving and Receiving Gifts: This is especially useful for when your kid gets a gift that they may not like or already have. Don’t leave these situations to chance.
3. Get Specific With Your Schedule
This suggestion is for revelers of all ages. Do not overbook yourself or your child. Practice saying no. Let your kid know — with plenty of advance warning — when they are expected to attend parties, etc. It helps to hang a large calendar with all holiday events clearly identified. Allow them to make off the days until such moments. Perhaps most importantly, highlight when you and your child will be taking time for yourselves.
4. Praise a Job Well Done
Reward good performance. Be specific about what you are praising. Such feedback will make it more likely that they will follow through on such behavior.
5. Maintain as Many Routines as Possible
Do not allow your normal rhythms to fully vanish in December. Put in the time and work to keep routines in place, e.g. when you eat, bedtimes, screen time restrictions, etc. Here’s a big one: Make certain that holiday snacking does not become the norm. Overeating and all the sugar could add up to long-term problems. Strike a healthy balance.
6. Help Others
Schedule in some acts of kindness. It could be a local food drive or maybe shoveling snow for a neighbor. Whatever you choose, make it happen and do it together. Lead by example to show how important it is to always find time to help.
Ask For Help For Yourself
If you are calm, there is a much better chance your kids will handle the season more calmly. Do not hesitate to lean on your support system and consider anxiety therapy for kids. Prioritizing your mental wellbeing is a giant step toward helping your family through the frenetic days of December. Let’s connect for a safe and confidential consultation.