Youth: Signs of holiday stress and tips for managing that stress

The youth in our lives may be exhibiting signs of stress and we don’t even know it. Learn about those signs of stress and some tips for helping youth manage their holiday stress.

With Halloween complete, we mark the time of year that can be most stressful – the winter holiday season! Regardless of how or where you celebrate the holidays associated with the winter months, stress can be felt. From trying to find a parking place, to ensuring you were charged the correct sale amount for an item, adults feel the pinch of the holiday season and often struggle to keep their feelings, emotions, actions and words under wraps so not to create unnecessary stress for others.

But the types of stress that were just described often apply only to adults. What about youth? Children don’t feel the stress of the holidays, right? With dreams of cookies, snowmen, presents and snow days what could possibly cause stress for youth during the holidays? Plenty! As adults, we probably don’t even recognize the warning signs that the youth we interact with may be exhibiting signs of holiday anxiety.

Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen explains in her blog that the following are signs that youth might exhibit when they’re feeling holiday stress:

  • Tear and cry for seemingly minor reasons
  • Bite nails, twirl hair or show other nervous behaviors
  • Express complaints about physical problems including stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, diarrhea, etc.
  • Regress to younger behaviors such as bed wetting or eating with their hands
  • Withdrawal from school friends or siblings
  • Any other behavior the youth doesn’t normally exhibit

Likewise, suggests the following tips to help the youth in your life manage stress during the holidays:

  • Limit TV and video games
    Don’t let TV and video games become a babysitter. Remember that youth who are stressed need physical activity and exercise.
  • Remember routines
    A disruption in routines during the holidays is something we may not have control over. Yet, keep in mind that this disruption may cause additional stress.
  • Nutrition
    Plan for at least one healthy meal as a family each day and don’t forget some healthy snacks while at the mall. Adding too much fast food and sugary treats can result in a stressed out, hungry family!
  • Family traditions
    Family traditions tend to offer great comfort and security for children when everything else during the holiday season seems to be disrupted.
  • Attitude check
    Both children and their parents need to have an attitude check before the holiday season begins. Remind everyone that with the right attitude, the holiday season can be a time of joy and peace.
  • Rest and relaxation
    Don’t forget to take a “time out” to rest and relax- this includes everyone. Youth who are well-rested tend to be happier.
  • Laugh
    Laughter is the best way to beat stress and change bad moods into good moods. Take time to read the comics or find a holiday joke book to share with youth.

Don’t forget to be a role model for youth during the holiday season. Breathe, relax, and take each day as it comes modeling appropriate behavior for the stressed youth in your life. Children really do feel the stress of the holidays, be sure you are helping them to manage their feelings, emotions, actions and words.

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