Managing Holiday Stress with Teens and Kids

As adults we often recognize and understand that the holidays are not always a time of great joy, at times they can be very depressing and stressful. We often do not stop to consider our children may be feeling some of what we are going through, or even going through their own stress or depression. Children and teens often experience some of the same feeling as adults, such as:

  • Hectic Schedules
  • Financial Stress
  • Crowds
  • Too much idle time
  • Increased grief over divorce/custody
  • Changes in routine
  • Shortened daylight

By managing your own stress you can help alleviate stress felt in your home and among other family members. Here are some tips you may do to help relieve stress during the holidays:

  • Set a holiday budget and stick to it.
  • Put aside differences (especially with ex’s) and work together.
  • Limit your alcohol use, this will help eliminate undue stress and set a good example for your teen who may have more peer pressure to drink during the holidays.
  • Try to plan ahead and schedule your holiday events.
  • Keep open communication about plans.

You can help your children/teens manage their stress by:

  • Talking to them.
  • Listening to them.
  • Give them time to take a break.
  • Encourage them to exercise and eat right.
  • Help them do something charitable.
  • Help them manage their gift buying and money managing.

For families who are dealing with an out-of-control teen, the holidays can be a time of even greater stress and worry. It is tough enough when they are in school or working and do not have a bunch of free time on their hands, then add extra time on their hands, more parties going on, and expectations of family time and it is even worse. There is worry that they will do something embarrassing at a family or work function, sleepless nights when they are not home by curfew, and fear their negative attitude will ruin the holidays for others.

The holidays are a perfect time to consider parent contracts. You can take this time to sit down and discuss what is expected from both parties and determine rewards or punishments if these expectations are not met. If you have never tried parent contracts before, you may wish to try doing a “holiday contract” for a short term contract specific to the holidays. Then, you may later consider other contracts for other issues or to establish general rules.