The holiday season traditionally is a time where we imagine spending more time with family. However, this is not always the case. When schedules become hectic, it can be harder to spot changes in our loved ones’ mental health – particularly children. Here are five tips to help stay on top of your child’s well-being this holiday season.
Stay as close to your regular routine as possible. Despite there being more going on in our households (or with travel), sticking to a similar routine helps children stay grounded during a hectic time of year.
Check in regularly with your kids, especially teens. A brief chat can make all the difference and alert you to a possible need. Kids, especially those with existing behavioral or mental health challenges, may struggle with managing change, resulting in stress and poor coping skills.
Share a picture of the day ahead. Young children, in particular, have a hard time with transitions. With family visiting or a busy schedule, it’s helpful to give your child a vision of what the day includes so they have time to mentally prepare.
Ensure basic needs are being met. It can be easy to get swept away in the busyness of the season – running errands, wrapping gifts, planning meals and parties. Don’t forget to ensure your child stays on track with meals, medications, bath and bedtime, and so on.
Give them your time. It’s tempting to send the kids into another room or to bed so you can get things done. But, don’t forget they still need quality time with you – especially if your household is a visitors’ hub for the holidays.
Despite our best efforts, the holiday blues can still strike. Serious warning signs to note include changes in sleeping, eating, personal hygiene patterns, social isolation or losing interest in activities they previously enjoyed. Also, frequent physical illnesses, such as headaches or stomachaches, could indicate something more than typical stress and anxiety.
Open communication despite the activities of the holiday season can help prevent more serious issues and ensure a healthy, happy transition into 2020!
Brittany Farrar is the regional director of Middle Tennessee programs and Tennessee Specialized Crisis Services for Youth Villages. If your child needs immediate crisis support this holiday season, counselors are available 24/7. Call 855-CRISIS-1 or text CONNECT to 741741.