How to Handle Holiday Stress Amongst Children and Youth

Ashleytarter   -  

The holiday season can be a time of joy, but it can also be stressful for children and youth. While most people look forward to the holidays, the season can make young ones anxious and irritable. As parents and caretakers, it is our responsibility to recognize and address the holiday stress that our children may experience.

Here are a few tips to help your youth this holiday season:

  1. Acknowledge the stress: The first step in handling holiday stress among children and youth is acknowledging that it exists. For children, the pressure to perform well in school, the anxiety of meeting family members outside their comfort zones, and the excitement of the holiday season can be overwhelming. Acknowledge this stress by giving children a chance to talk about their anxieties. Offer them reassurance while letting them know that their feelings are valid. Remember, what may not seem significant to adults can be a source of major worry for children.
  2. Maintain a routine: Another way to handle holiday stress among children and youth is by maintaining a routine. The holidays may bring a change in schedule, but keeping regular routines and schedules can help decrease stress and make children feel more secure. These routines can include regular mealtimes and bedtimes. It’s also important to provide children with downtime, where they can relax and unwind after a busy day.
  3. Avoid Overstimulation: The holiday season often brings many social events, decorations, and lights that can overstimulate children. Overstimulation can lead to sensory overload, resulting in meltdowns or shutdowns. Help children avoid overstimulation by keeping them away from places that are too crowded, too noisy, or too bright. Provide them with activities that they find calm and help to ground them, such as reading or drawing.
  4. Set Boundaries: During the holiday season, many well-meaning relatives may try to spoil children with an excess of toys and gifts. While we appreciate the effort that family members put into gift-giving, too many gifts can lead to overstimulation, distraction, and stress. As parents, it is our responsibility to set boundaries and limit the number of gifts children receive. Encourage family members to give meaningful presents, such as spending time doing activities with children or giving consumable gifts such as books or art supplies.
  5. Take care of yourself: Lastly, it’s important to take care of yourself. As a parent or caretaker, you may feel pressure to make the holiday season perfect for your children. Remember that the holidays can be stressful for everyone, and taking care of yourself can help you better handle stress. Set realistic expectations, and don’t be too hard on yourself if everything doesn’t go perfectly. Take time for yourself by exercising, meditating, or taking a walk around the block.

The holiday season is a time for joy, but it can also be a period that brings stress, anxiety, and overstimulation. As parents and caretakers, we must recognize the stress that children can experience and take steps to prevent or minimize it. By acknowledging stress, maintaining routines, avoiding overstimulation, setting boundaries, and taking care of ourselves, we can help our children and youth have a happy and stress-free holiday season.


I pray this helps!

Errika Wilkerson 

Director of Children and Youth

Dare to Imagine Church