The holiday season with shopping, preparations and many social events can be stressful for adults, but can be times of high anxiety for children as well. When parents are overwhelmed, children can pick up on those feelings and become overwhelmed as well. For children with anxiety, these feelings can cause them to not enjoy the holiday season.
Below are ten tips for helping children to cope with holiday anxiety:
1) Look for and recognize signs of stress in children. Some signs of anxiety can include:
a. Crying or irritable for no reason or over minor mishaps
b. Displaying nervous behaviors or an increase in behaviors such as nail biting, hair twirling, bedwetting or hyperactivity
c. Increase in stomach aches or headaches
d. Lack of desire to participate in holiday activities or get together with friends.
2) Remain on family routines as much as possible. Although holiday parties and events can interfere with family routines, try to remain on routine. Complete homework at the same time, make sure children go to bed at the same time as during the rest of the year.
3) Feed children before going to a holiday party. Many times children will eat snacks only at parties. Provide them a nutritious meal before heading off to a party. Proper nutrition is important all the time, but especially so during the holiday season when there is so many additional snacks and sweets available. Not eating right can add to irritability.
4) Stick to regular bedtimes to make sure children get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can cause anxiety symptoms to increase. Arrive at social events early in order to leave in time to get children to bed on time. At times there is no social events scheduled, be sure holiday preparations do not interfere with a child’s sleep schedule.
5) Allow for quiet evenings at home. Choose one night each week to have movie night or just spend an evening together at home. Children need to feel secure and spending time at home helps to increase their feelings of security.