From back-to-back holiday parties to shopping for loved ones and having extended family in town, it is common for many adults to feel overwhelmed. Although full of joy, the holiday season is traditionally one of the most stressful times of the year, and it’s not just adults who feel it.
During the holidays, the normal routines of children often become disrupted. The upheaval to their schedule can cause children to feel out of sorts. Kids may stay up past their bedtimes, consume fewer nutritional foods, and could have to share their space with cousins, aunts, uncles, and whoever else is visiting. In addition, children can sense when their parents are also stressed and may co-opt those emotions as their own.
While feeling pressure seems unavoidable this season, it is important that parents are prepared and can recognize when their child is feeling overwhelmed. Children who are stressed may show signs through emotional outbursts, withdrawal from others, challenges sleeping, increased irritability, and even head and stomach aches.
One of the best ways that parents can help their child is to keep their routines as normal as possible. Even as schedules become very busy, parents need to enforce their children’s usual bedtime, keep their diet the same as the rest of the year, and keep them active.
With the business of this season, kids may feel exhausted with all the festivities. Prioritizing getting plenty of rest can be key to preventing distress and ensuring kids stay healthy, too. Therefore, depending on age, children need to go to bed at their usual bedtimes and take daily naps. Parents should also consider this when planning holiday activities, so kids can rest and act as their normal selves.
Cookies, candy canes, and hot cocoa are essential during the holidays, but parents still need to ensure their kids do not experience a sugar overload. A kid’s diet should include plenty of greens and protein to balance out the sweets. Parents who are cooking a big feast may not want to spend lots of time cooking the days prior, which is understandable but try to avoid the temptation of eating out or going for fast food. Consider meal prepping or finding simple but healthy dish recipes online that will ensure kids receive plenty of nutrition so they feel good during this time.
Although sports may be on pause for winter break, parents can still ensure children stay active through family activities and playtime. Ice skating and going to a trampoline park are fun outings families can enjoy with lots of movement to keep the blood pumping and burn off energy. Depending on the weather, parents can even take their kid’s bike riding or on a hike. Families traveling to somewhere colder can take advantage of the snow by having a snowball fight, skiing, or building a snowman. Not only are these great exercise options, but they will also help both adults and children forget about some of their worries. Working out is known to have a positive impact on one’s happiness, just make sure to schedule plenty of rest time while making new family traditions.
Because the holidays are a very busy time of year, some of these options may not be as easy as one would hope, but parents can still prepare their children for what is to come. Remind them that they can always talk with mom and dad if they start feeling overwhelmed, tired or unsettled. Children who know they can confide in their parents about their feelings will be able to process these emotions more maturely as they get older.
Author: Ben Smith is the CEO and creator of Gnosis IQ, an artificial intelligence software that predicts students’ future performance and tracks students’ emotional status throughout the day. For more information on Gnosis IQ, visit https://www.gnosis-iq.com/.