Holiday Stress for Kids
Many of us have been brought up to believe the holidays are a wonderfully happy time of year. TV and radio stations play a variety of merry music and shows that end with “Happily Ever After” or “I Got My Wish!” Stores are adorned with all the trappings of the holidays and employees are there to wish you the merriest of the season.
With all this happiness, joy and holiday spirit being spread by the generous handful how could anyone not be happy, especially children? I mean after all so much of this holiday season is focused around children. It would be awful ungrateful of them to be depressed when so much time has been spent showing them the joy of the holidays.
It’s great that as teachers we want to spread this holiday cheer, but let’s not forget a few statistics that do not change with the season.
Six million children are abused in the United States every year and four to seven of these children will die each day from this abuse.
15.8 million children live in homes where they are not provided with the necessary food and nutrition to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Of these children, 12 million need to be fed by government assistance programs.
In the U.S., 41% of the homeless population is families. The National Coalition for the Homeless reported that 71% of cities surveyed said that their homeless family population is growing and 100% of these cities fully expect to see an increase in families and children seeking assistance.
As education professionals we need to be aware that not all of our students will have a Happy Thanksgiving or a Merry Christmas. We need to watch for signs that indicate the pressures of the holidays are causing increased stress for these kids and many others. We need to be ready with strategies to try and help reduce some of this stress and help children manage their emotions more effectively.
It is wise to spend some class time discussing the pressures and stress the holidays can bring. It’s good to share the stresses we as adults feel during the holidays. Call on some of the students you know are comfortable sharing and ask them to share what is stressing them during the holidays. Not all students will want to share, but even the ones who don’t share will most likely benefit from the discussion.
It’s also a good idea to discuss with students ways to manage stress. Students should know they could exercise, talk with a friend, write in a journal, do something fun or take a warm bath or shower to help relieve stress. There are also methods for avoiding unnecessary stress, altering situations to reduce stress, adapting to the stressor, learning to accept things that can’t be changed and basically trying to develop a healthier lifestyle.
Here is a link to an adult Stress Quiz that is quick and may give some insight into your own stress level: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/assessment_questions.asp?quizid=37
This is a link to an adolescent Stress Quiz that you may want to have students take on their smart device or computer: http://www.bam.gov/sub_yourlife/yourlife_stressometer.html#
The results of these quizzes don’t necessarily need to be shared, but knowing your stress level is the first step to reduction and management.
It’s wonderful to enjoy the holiday season and spread the cheer, but let’s not get so caught up in the season that we forget to help our students take care of themselves.