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Parenting

INFORMATION FOR

December

Taken from the Ohio American Assoc. of Pediatrics

Holiday Stress

Ohio AAP Offers Tips to Help Families Enjoy a Low-Stress Holiday Season 

The holidays are a fun and joyous time, but also a very busy one. Most adults experience some level of stress during the holiday season, with increased spending, longer to-do lists and a busier social calendar. However, holiday stress isn’t just limited to adults. All that hustle and bustle means schedules are often out of whack, bedtimes get pushed back, and routines are disrupted, which can lead to stress and anxiety for children as well. It is important that parents are aware of the stress levels in the family and are able to recognize the symptoms of stress in their children. Fussiness, ear pulling and clinginess are all behaviors that may indicate stress for babies and younger children. Signs of stress in older children include: tears for seemingly minor reasons; nail biting and hair twirling; complaints like headaches or stomach-aches; withdrawal from friends and family; irritability or any significant change in a child’s regular behavior. Following are several tips that can help minimize holiday stress and anxiety for the whole family:

  1. Set a calm example. The most important way parents can help ease anxiety in children is by managing their own stress and anxiety. Kids pick up on parent’s stress levels, which can in-turn increase their feelings of stress. Be aware of how you’re feeling, know your limits and take these things into consideration as you determine what you can commit to this holiday season.

  2. Consult your pediatrician if you feel you need help managing the situation.

  3. Talk about it. Remind children that it is OK to be worried or anxious – there’s nothing wrong with strong feelings! Help them learn how to cope with those natural feelings in a healthy way – by talking, reading, drawing, journaling, exercising or making music. When parents help their children to identify healthy distractions, the children are less likely to adopt unhealthy responses to stress.

  4. Schedule down time. Making time for a quiet moment with your child is more important than ever during the busy holiday season. Find a quiet corner and read a book with your child, listen to soothing music or take a walk outside in nature, away from noise and crowds and obligations.

  5. Get them involved. Kids love to help out, especially if they are praised for being responsible and helpful. Ask your child to help you find the perfect gift, or recruit them to help with wrapping or baking. The holidays are also a great opportunity to teach children about the importance of helping others. Visit a nursing home, volunteer at a food pantry or lend a hand to a neighbor. Giving your child a task or the opportunity to help others will not only boost self-esteem, it will also distract from the feelings of stress.

  6. Set them up for success. Discuss plans in advance so activities are predictable and children know what is expected of them. Avoid taking your child to places like the mall or holiday gatherings when he is hungry or tired. When traveling, remember to bring your child’s favorite blanket or stuffed animal from home.

  7. Remember the importance of routines. Attempt to stick to established routines even if you are traveling or relatives are visiting. This applies to sleep habits, nutrition and exercise. The appropriate amount of sleep, proper nutrition and regular exercise are all extremely important in easing anxiety. Predictable routines lead to less stress for everyone!

  8. Laugh. Laughter is a great way to beat stress and change everyone’s mood from bad to good. Lighten the mood with funny movies, family games, silly songs or a pre-dinner dance party.

  9. Talk about it. Remind children that it is OK to be worried or anxious – there’s nothing wrong with strong feelings! Help them learn how to cope with those natural feelings in a healthy way – by talking, reading, drawing, journaling, exercising or making music. When parents help their children to identify healthy distractions, the children are less likely to adopt unhealthy responses to stress.

  10. Consult your pediatrician if you feel you need help managing the situation.









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