To receive one training credit, please read the article below and answer the following questions.
The holiday season is a time full of joy, cheer, parties, and family gatherings. However, for many people it is a time of self-evaluation, loneliness, reflection on past failures, and anxiety about an uncertain future. Families want their holidays to be special and happy for everyone, especially the children. But what many parents forget is that the holiday season can be a very busy time and very stressful for all family members. Children are especially vulnerable at this time of year. It’s important to remember that children need to relax and enjoy the holidays, just the same as adults do. Along with decorating, baking, shopping, and school activities, there are additional stresses children face, that sometimes adults don’t realize. Children often are taken along shopping or visiting when they normally might be relaxing or napping, disrupting their daily routine.
You can help your children reduce holiday stress by following these tips:
- Try to take the hype out of the holidays. Talk to your children about the true meaning of the holiday season.
- Help your children do their holiday gift planning. Holiday shopping can be overwhelming for kids, so help them plan in advance who to buy for, what to buy, and how much to spend. Or consider helping your children make gifts for family and friends.
- Limit TV and video games. It’s very easy at this time of year to allow the TV and video games to become the babysitter. But children who are stressed need some type of physical activity or exercise. Also keep in mind that much of TV holiday programming seems to be designed to get children all worked up about the holidays. Be selective about what you allow your children to watch.
- Remember routines. For parents of small children, this is especially good advice. During the holidays children will find their routines disrupted. Make sure you stick to daily schedules as much as you can.
- Nutrition. Ever notice the lines at fast food restaurants as it gets closer to the holidays? They are getting longer, because parents typically are too busy to go home and cook a nutritious meal. And factor in all those sugary holiday treats and you end up with a stressed-out, hungry family. Plan at least one healthy meal as a family everyday. And don’t forget to include a healthy snack while you’re visiting the mall.
- Family traditions. Many people fail to remember how important traditions are to themselves and their children. Family traditions offer great comfort and security for children when everything in their lives is being disrupted by the holiday season. Try to incorporate holiday traditions of your foster children with your family’s whenever possible. Perhaps your family would enjoy creating an Advent calendar together, or baking cookies and delivering them to a local nursing home or soup kitchen.
- Attitude check. Both children and their parents need to have an attitude check before the holiday season begins. Take a deep breath and have everyone in the family pledge to make the holiday season a time of joy and peace.
- Rest and relaxation. Everyone, especially children, needs to take a “time out” over the holiday season to rest and relax. For parents of younger children, this is especially good advice, because a well-rested child will be much happier on a trip to the mall than one who is in desperate need of a nap. Schedule some R & R time for everyone in the family.
- Enjoy activities that are free, such as driving around to look at holiday decorations; going window shopping without buying; playing out in the snow with your children.
- Keep travel to a minimum. A single destination to visit grandparents in another town may not cause major stress, but a long winter road trip to visit everyone in the extended family may be a nightmare.
- Include your children in holiday planning sessions, and let them know the details well in advance. This will give them time to prepare emotionally for visits, dinners, and other activities of the season.
- Laugh. Laughter is the best way to beat stress and change everyone’s mood from bad to good. Take time to read the comics to your children, or watch a funny movie as a family.
- Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Try to set realistic goals for yourself. Pace yourself. Organize your time. Make a list and prioritize the important activities. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Do not put the entire focus on just one day (i.e. Thanksgiving Day)-remember it is a season of holiday sentiment and activities that can be spread out to lessen the stress and increase enjoyment.
The holiday season doesn’t have to be a time of stress and exhaustion. Make sure you do your part to make the most wonderful time of the year live up to its reputation. You and your children will be glad you did.