It’s the most wonderful time of the year – on that we can all agree. But as exciting as the holidays can be, they can be overwhelming at times too. Here are five situations where your child might need a little help to reduce their holiday stress and stay on the “nice list.”
Gift Giving Guidelines: Gift giving can be stressful for teens. They often aren’t sure who should get a gift and what it should be – and how they are going to pay for it. Sit down with your teen and help develop a list of everyone they want to give a gift to, from family members to teachers to that ‘special someone.’ Look realistically at their budget and figure out who is paying for what. For example, you might decide to spring for the teacher’s gifts if they write a nice note or, offer to split the cost of family member gifts. Encourage them to consider something that is thoughtful but doesn’t cost a lot of money. They could take over a chore for a sibling for a month; or visit their grandparents to play Scrabble. If they do have a significant other, talk with them about an appropriate gift. Teens can go overboard with gifts and then regret it if the relationship ends up being short lived. Have them think through each gift-giving situation and the best way to handle it without breaking the bank.
Party Pointers: The holidays are a great time to introduce basic party etiquette, from the importance of RSVPing, to not bailing on one party or event because you got a better offer. Try to include them in family events, like a neighborhood party, so they can practice conversational skills and have the chance to dress up and offer their help to the host. Discuss your own house rules for “friend parties,” i.e. what they should do if parents aren’t present, and talk through tactics for dealing with peer pressure.
Schedule Sanity: If your child was busy and stressed before the holidays, December just amps up the pressure. Now is the time to sit down with your teen and go over their schedule for the weeks leading up to the New Year. As every team, club and organization they’re in plans their holiday celebration, they can realize just how over-extended they are. Pick which events are must-dos, and which ones they can skip. And don’t forget about homework, projects, tests and looming college applications. The holidays are a great time to enlist the help of a tutor. They can help ease the year-end pressure that can take some of the jolly out of December.
Health Hazards: Tis the season for overeating and skimping on exercise and sleep. Help your teen make smart food choices by serving extra healthy fare when they’re home for a family meal. Encourage them to have a high-protein snack prior to a party so that they don’t arrive famished and fill up on chips. At home, help model portion control and healthful choices. And, encourage them to keep up on exercise, whether it’s carving out time for a visit to the gym or a family trip to the ice skating rink.
Thanks-giving: Most teens can use a reminder to appreciate all that they have. Encourage them to write a special note to someone who has helped them the past year. And highlight the importance of giving thanks for all they have by helping the less fortunate. Volunteering as a family to buy gifts for needy kids or helping at a food pantry reinforces these values and creates a wonderful family memory.
No matter what holiday your family celebrates, many teens find themselves looking for ways to reduce holiday stress in December. Find opportunities when you can to help your teen enjoy the season while building up their reservoir of life skills.