Stressful holidays? Children feel it too.

The winter holidays are often a stressful time for adults – and children too.

Children may struggle with the transition from school to vacation. Sleep schedules can be disrupted with holiday travel or house guests. Even happy activities like opening gifts can lead to sibling quarrels or disappointment.

During the time of holiday gatherings and family celebrations, it’s easy for rules and routines to take a back seat. Here are a few tips to help manage your child’s potential holiday stress.

  • Set expectations with your children – Talk to your children about expectations for gifts and holiday activities. If you are planning to go to a large family gathering or a special religious observance that your kids don’t normally participate in, let them know what you expect in the way of their behavior.
  • Monitor your own level of stress – If you are tense and stressed during this time of the year, you may see these behaviors increase in your own child. Consider stressful situations in a broader context: is it worth skipping Susie’s nap in order to fight the crowds at the mall?
  • Talk, Talk, Talk – Since kids don’t have their normal schedule of going to school, it is important to talk to your children about what is being planned for the day or week. This is comforting because it helps them know what to expect.
  • Find balance between fun and overwhelming – Kids can easily be overwhelmed by all the excitement of the holiday season. It’s important, especially for very young children, to not schedule too many things. Keep some of a child’s normal activities or routines to help them not become overwhelmed with new experiences.

Holiday Stress - Web


Source: American Psychological Association NOTE: This information should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of a mental health condition. Call 612-871-1454 to learn more about Washburn Center’s mental health services for children.