How to Handle Your Child's Holiday Stress

Learn how to handle your child's holiday stress in this Howcast video about child anxiety issues.

Hi, I’m Dr. Robin Goodman and I’m here to talk about how to handle your child’s holiday stress. In generally, we know the holidays are supposed to be very exciting. And people get so fueled and there’s a lot anticipation. But for children that can also be expressed as stress. There’s a lot of expectations, there’s a lot of excitement, there’s a lot of change in routines for them, there’s a lot of wishing and hoping.

Sometimes there is just a lot of pressure for trying to be good to get those special presents or whatever it is that’s going to happen. So I think parents have to be very careful about understand what holiday stress is for kids. And you also have to think how to manage that stress.

For kids the stress comes in a lot of ways. One is they can express it in particular with their behavior. Now I think what we also focus on is the very young child and their behavior. They may tantrum more; they may not sleep as well. You know, they may kind of back talk because they’re having such a hard time thinking about it.

You know, when you get older kids they might just get stubborn, they might get into the give me’s and they might get into the big long list of things that they want. And then our teenagers might even be thinking about the big presents that they want. And you just can’t afford them. So that’s stressful for everyone.

So when you’re thinking about how to manage the stress, you want to think about what you’re doing as a family. You want to think about what the holiday means for you and your family. Those sometimes aren’t the same. And then you want to think about all that hype that surrounds you and the influences on you and your children and your family.

There’s some things you can do to help your children and your family with holiday stress. One is manage your expectations, manage everyone’s expectations. So don’t compare yourself to the family next door. And certainly don’t compare yourself to the commercial version of the holidays. We only see picture perfect, the snow covered houses, the fire. It may be an Easter; it may be a 4th of July whatever it is there’s always this image that’s out there in the public. But it seems like you’re supposed to match.

And that’s selling things it’s not talking about your family, our tradition and the meaning behind it for you. So that’s the first thing, don’t think that you’re falling short because of some ideal. And that means you’re children won’t be expecting some fantasy about the holiday.

Then the next thing is, to really think about the environment and though it’s really an exciting time, there’s a lot of change, with change can come stress. And so when there’s a lot of change what you really want to do is try to balance routine and the comfort of what’s predictable for your children, especially the young kids with what’s special and exciting.

So certainly there might be parties and events and more gifts, but then you want to still maybe try to have the regular bedtime. Or have the regular breakfast. Or still have the kids be involved in chores. So that there’s something that’s grounding for the whole family.

The other thing is you want to include everyone at times. Talk about what’s a tradition that you all like, what’s something you might want to do differently. How would you like to change it up this year, what did you like, what did you not like.

And even talk about the concept of tradition in holidays being a part of their history. So there’s nothing better than asking relatives asking grandparents what their holidays were like. Bringing some of that into your family and starting new traditions, or renewing traditions with your children.

So those are all things that make it your holiday, not the holiday you’re supposed to have because that’s what we see out there as some gold standard. It’s what’s the standard that fits for you all.