Reduce Holiday Anxiety for Your Kids

We all know how much kids love Christmas, but your children may struggle emotionally when both parents are no longer together. This time of year can be incredibly tough on everyone, particularly if it is your first Christmas on your own. Here are some simple tips to help both you and your children get through the holidays.

  • As a parent, if you are stressed, you can bet your kids will be stressed as well, so take good care of yourself first. The less stress you feel, the more relaxed your children will be.
  • Let your children know that it is ok and normal to feel and express their sadness. Being available and willing to listen and validate their feelings will relieve a great deal of the sadness and anxiety your child may be experiencing.
  • Your attitude toward your ex during this important time of the year will play a crucial role in the amount of stress your child will feel. Parents who get along give their children the most important gift they will ever receive—the gift of hope that their parents can at least be civil. So, step up and take the high road for your children’s sake.
  • Involve your child in some of the holiday decisions. This will lessen their anxiety of feeling out of control when they have had no voice in whether or not their parents stay together and everything feels out of control.
  • Allow your children to plan how they spend some of their time with each parent—especially older children. Perhaps they could bring a friend along or plan activities with friends during their time with you. For younger children, allow them to pack a favourite toy or blanket when going to spend time with the other parent. A little bit of home can foster a feeling of security.
  • Create new memories. Children rarely remember much about the gifts they received but they keep their memories. What type of memories do you want to give to your children—skating in the park, snuggled under a blanket watching family movies, a cozy fire sipping hot chocolate? You are limited only by your imagination.
  • Work out a fair and flexible parenting schedule well in advance of the holidays. Having Mom “present” and Dad “present” could very well be the very best present you can give your kids.
  • Putting your children ahead of your own hurt, anger and sadness through the post-divorce holiday season is truly a gift from the heart that will last long after the holidays pass.
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