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Why your child could be suffering holiday stress

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The holidays can be an especially anxious time for anyone. If you’re noticing more tension than usual, your child may be experiencing similar feelings. Your child might seem a bit withdrawn or irritable, may sleep more than usual, or is exhibiting other signs of stress. Some stress is okay, but when these feelings start to overwhelm your child, it’s time to intervene.

Reasons for holiday stress and anxiety

 

fewer daylight hours and changes in routine

The ‘holiday blues’ are real, and have many underlying causes:

  • Fewer daylight hours. The decreased number of daylight hours can have a significant effect on mental health, including your child’s. Even in the Sunshine State, many begin to feel the effects of seasonal depression during these shorter winter days.
  • Changes in routine. When your child is off from school for winter break, the whole routine changes. Even if they don’t recognize it, your child could be affected when the familiar daily structure of school, bedtime, and mealtimes becomes less rigid.

Tips to help your child with holiday-related stress and anxiety

 

Even if your child isn’t showing any particular signs of holiday stress, these tips are great for fostering a healthy and strong family connection.

  1. Take care of yourself. Kids are attentive, and they pick up on family ‘vibes’ more than you might think. If you are in a bad mood, it can affect their mood as well. When you are stressed and anxious, it can increase their levels of anxiety as well and make them more irritable. Although the holidays can be a busy time, make sure you set aside time to take care of yourself and unwind. Your body and mind will thank you for it and so will your children. You can start by exploring these ideas for taking a break.
  2. Stay active. Staying active as a family can be difficult, but keeping up with physical activities is crucial for a happy family and healthy children – and parents! If your child plays a sport, winter break might be their off season, but that doesn’t mean that all physical activity should stop. Physical activities aren’t just limited to sports, either. Here are some ways to help your child and your family stay active:
    1. Start a dance party in your living room with a fun dance cardio routine
    2. Start a small garden and celebrate that we can do that in Florida in December!
    3. Do some family-friendly yoga
    4. Create a scavenger hunt
    5. Here’s a list of even more fun activities 
  3. Eat well. Eating well is another crucial part of living a healthy lifestyle, but it can be difficult and sometimes inconvenient for busy families. It’s also difficult during the holiday season when many want to simply indulge. Along with their holiday treats, make sure your children are getting the proper nutrition they need daily. Involve your children in menu planning, shopping, and cooking!
  4. Meditate. Meditation can be intimidating at first, but can be extremely beneficial to anyone experiencing high levels of stress and take time to relaxanxiety. A guided body scan meditation can be a great introduction to meditating because the purpose is to check in with yourself and your feelings. Try this body scan meditation as a way to relax for yourself, or for your family to unwind together.
  5. Foster open communication. Talk to your children about your holiday traditions and be open to their answers. If they don’t like a certain tradition, talk about ways to change it and make it more special for your family. If family dynamics have changed (such as a divorce, new partner, or a death in the family), talk about that too. Let your child know that it’s okay (and encouraged!) for them to come to you and to be open with their feelings.
  6. Give your child control. During winter break and without a set routine, life can feel a bit unsettling. Talk to your child about what they want the winter break routine to look like. Having a discussion with them about their new schedule will give them a sense of autonomy and ownership over their own lives.
  7. Manage gift expectations. Gift-giving comes with its own stress, both for you and your child. If you know your child wants something out of your price range, be honest with them ahead of time. If your child believes the gift will come from Santa, be ready to deal with those expectations as well.
  8. Get crafty. Being creative is a lot of fun and a great family bonding activity. Have your kids choose and help with a new recipe, make some cookies that they can decorate, or create some fun holiday decorations and gifts. The possibilities are endless and anything that gets the creative juices flowing is a great stress reliever.
  9. Enjoy holiday stories, movies, and music. Even though some favorite community and school events have been canceled due to the pandemic, there are still many wonderful events happening online and through the creative programming of libraries and museums. Enjoy!

Don’t let the holidays get you and your family down.

If you need help talking to your child about changing family dynamics or just want to learn more about parenting, browse our parenting workshops or call us to schedule an appointment.

Vaping and Teens

Vaping is certainly not a new phenomenon, but e-cigarette use has become increasingly popular over the past two years. Sometimes referred to as “Juuling”, a term coined after people began using the Juul brand e-cigarette device, vaping is the inhaling and exhaling of a blend of nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals as a vapor.

There is a common, but inaccurate, belief that e-cigarettes contain fewer chemicals than traditional cigarettes, so they are said to be less harmful. This is likely why there has been quite a boom in e-cigarette sales across the nation – and why this has become more popular with teens in particular.

The sudden increase in vaping amongst teens has taken the medical community by surprise. A study done by the University of Michigan found that nearly one in three high school students in the U.S. has tried vaping in the past year. That number may grow as e-cigarette companies have begun to broaden their appeal and market products specifically for teens and young adults. With a wide array of flavors to choose from, the trend shows no sign of slowing anytime soon.

Many parents have become concerned about their teenaged children vaping, and this is with good reason. There are plenty of concerns and risks to consider. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. As teens still have developing brains and bodies, it is far easier for them to get “hooked” on substances.

Also, e-cigarettes still contain potentially toxic chemicals. While they haven’t been around long enough to conduct thorough long-term studies about their effects on the body, doctors, researchers, and others have unequivocally stated that e-cigarettes are not safe for teens and young adults. There is also the risk of poisoning, device explosions, and allergic reactions. There have been cases where e-cigarettes are laced with illegal drugs.

If your teen or young adult is vaping, and you are concerned about their safety, here are some tips regarding how you should approach the issue:

Have Honest Conversations

As teens and young adults are still forming habits, impulse control, and experiencing several changes throughout their brains and bodies, it is critical that you approach the issue without engaging in a “lecture”. Ask them questions about vaping that are not accusatory. If you pass someone vaping, ask your teen what they think about it. Begin with open-ended questions that spark conversations.

Also, be prepared to have honest conversations about the risks involved. Teens tend to be more impulsive than adults, so your teen may not be considering the long-term effects of e-cigarettes. Discuss the fact that there are many unknowns about vaping, and that doctors have decided that it is not a healthy habit. Be clear about your expectations, but open to an exchange of ideas.

If your teen mentions that “everyone is doing it” or that “vaping is safer than smoking” you can face these comments with facts easily. The truth is that most teens in the U.S. do not vape, and while e-cigarettes do contain fewer chemicals, they still contain nicotine and toxic substances. No long-term studies have been done yet to assess the likelihood of illnesses like cancers, addiction, breathing problems, or the effects of vaping on young brains. Just because something is popular doesn’t make it safe or healthy.

Role Modeling

Teens and young adults are often more aware of their surroundings than you think. If you vape or you smoke, remember that they are watching and will consider your actions as an “approval” of whatever they choose to do. If you do intend to keep vaping, keep your devices secured and try to vape away from their presence.

Seek Professional Help

If you feel that your teen or young adult is experiencing issues with vaping that make you feel frustrated or overwhelmed, or if you feel like their habits are standing in the way of success, it may be time to seek professional help. The Bougainvilla House offers comprehensive therapy for teens and young adults dealing with substance use or behavioral issues, all in a safe, supportive environment.

If you would like to learn more about our services, visit our website today at https://thebougainvillahouse.com/, or call our caring team at 954-764-7337 and schedule an appointment. We are committed to giving you and your teen or young adult the tools needed to succeed and thrive.