Keep holiday stress out of life

By MSU Extension

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Holiday times are stressful for everyone, including children.

Kids may respond to stress by acting up, or they may just withdraw for a while.

Here are some suggestions to help calm them down and keep them happy through the holiday season.

  • Try to take the hype out of the holidays. Talk to your children about the true meaning of the holiday season this will vary, depending on your faith and heritage and get them to help you find ways to simplify the season.
  • Help them do their holiday gift planning. Holiday shopping can be overwhelming for kids, so help them decide in advance who to buy for, what to buy and how much to spend. Or even better help them make appropriate gifts for family and friends.
  • De-emphasize television. Much holiday programming seems to be designed to get children all worked up about the holidays. Try to mute or turn off the commercials, and be selective about your family’s holiday viewing.
  • Emphasize family traditions, or create new ones just for your kids. Routines and rituals are comforting to most children and help to create lasting, happy holiday memories.
  • Stick to your normal family routine as much as possible. It’s often hard to take time out of busy holiday preparations, but a walk, a trip to a playground or play area, or whatever else you usually do with your kids each day can be a great stress reducer.
  • Keep travel to a minimum. A single-destination visit to grandparents in another town may not cause major stress, but a long winter road trip to visit everyone in the extended family may be a nightmare.
  • Include your children in holiday planning sessions, and let them know the final details well in advance. This will give them a chance to prepare themselves emotionally for the visits, dinners and other running around of the season.

Tips and Warnings

  • Set firm spending limits for the whole family to follow. This will help your children save their money and remind them that they don’t have to overspend at holiday times.
  • Involve your kids as much as possible with your holiday crafts, baking and cooking. These are fun activities that keep little minds too occupied to think about getting into trouble, and little hands too busy to make mischief.
  • If you see your children beginning to get stressed, try to spend some quiet time with them before the situation gets out of control. Stop for a snack, a game or a few minutes of reading, then get back to holiday-related stuff when everyone is relaxed again.
  • Choose holiday events and activities carefully and sparingly; you and your family don’t have to attend every single holiday party, bake sale or craft fair in town.