How to Help Your Anxious Child Enjoy the Holidays

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holidaysDespite the goodies, gifts and glee, the holidays can be a stressful time – especially for children who already suffer from anxiety. If your anxious child shows an increase in stress, it may be wise to engage in some holiday downtime. A few quiet evenings at home can be a major blessing, giving your child and the rest of your family time to decompress from the ongoing holiday chaos.

You’ll also want to keep communication open, letting your anxious child know he or she can talk to you about anything at any time. Create a special signal your child can use during an event to alert you of discomfort. This can serve as a cue to leave the event, or at least take some quiet time out to sit with your child and help him or her relax.

Other strategies can help keep anxiety levels in check, not only for your anxious child but for your family as a whole.

Stay on Track with Regular Routines

Sure, your holiday weeks may be packed with places to do and things to do, but try to maintain as much as the regular routine as possible. That means eating at the same time every day, sticking with nutritious foods, and getting enough sleep with regular bedtimes.

Eating right and getting enough sleep are particularly high on the list of routines to maintain. Imbalanced nutrition, hunger and lack of sleep can all exacerbate anxiety and stress, for children and adults alike.

You may even want to serve your anxious child a balanced meal before you head out to a party where there’s sure to be tons of candy and snacks. Children are less inclined to fill up on too many sweets if their stomachs are already full.

Avoid Overload 

Candy and snacks are not the only things that can cause holiday overload. Endless shopping sprees, holiday travel, family get-togethers and guests dropping by with greetings can all contribute.

Cut down your mall shopping time by doing a lot of your shopping online, provided you plan far enough in advance for the gifts to arrive on time. Small doses of mall shopping may suit your anxious child better than an extended spree. You can also cut down on time by knowing exactly what you’re shopping for instead of wandering aimlessly from store to store.

Letting your child know exactly what to expect in a variety of situations can also cut down on the overload. Tell them if a place will be crowded and who will be there. Explain the different steps of holiday travel, along with everything they’ll encounter on a car trip, plane or train. Outline the route and time it will take, then ask your child for suggestions of fun things to do for passing that time.

With a bit of preparation and plenty of family downtime, there’s a good chance you and your child can trade the holiday stress and anxiety for holiday merriment and glee.

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Photo Credit: Jonas Tana via Compfight cc

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