top of page
  • Writer's pictureAngie Holstein, MSW, RSW

Holiday Stress and Parenting: Focusing on Joy and Family Connection

Updated: Feb 8, 2019

Angie Holstein, MSW, RSW

Social Worker, Psychotherapist

As parents we face the holiday period with a sense of excitement and anticipation of stress. We know that the routines and rules will be disrupted. Overindulgence and busy schedules will likely compromise some of the happy family moments that you crave.

Here are a few tips to consider during the holidays season:

Breathe: The most important tip as always in parenting is to manage your emotions, expectations and anxieties. Children and teens depend on their parents to regulate their environment and their moods. It is better to take a break, do a breathing exercise or go for a walk in order to replenish your half empty cup. See the following link for additional tips to manage stress

Set realistic expectations: Every year you may find yourself crafting plans to make this year different and more smooth than the last. Take a moment to think of your storybook holiday and then try to let some of it go. A “going with the flow” mindset can reduce the intensity of emotions like disappointment, anger and resentment.

Change your words: Can you change words like “chaos” to “unstructured”, “out of control” to “child like fun”? Parents who practice reframing unhelpful language to more neutral or happier words report more success with managing stress.

Flexibility: Be willing to leave the rule book at home when traveling. Routines and predictability are typically an important part of parenting, not only to foster a secure attachment (a feeling that they are important, safe and loved) with our children but to support us in our effectiveness as parents. When you are out of your home at family and friend’s gatherings, the typical parenting strategies or routines will likely be less effective because the environment will be different. There is no point in trying the same thing over and over with little effect. Stress is contagious and trickles downwards to the whole family.

Prepared Thoughts: Try to go with pre-formed thoughts that counter those common thoughts of failure when routines, such as bedtime are off schedule. For example: “Spending time piled on the couch and bonding with cousins is worth the later bedtime today”; “when we get home we will get back on routine as we always do”.

Humour: Chose laughter and smiles. Isn’t that your hope for the holidays? Putting up a note or funny picture in your home can prompt you to a state of humour when in the middle of chaos. The brain has formed neural pathways that lead us to either stress or distress. Try steering your pathway to humour and happiness by holding a 5 second smile, even when it’s the last thing you want to do. Dr. Isha Gupta, a neurologist from IGEA Brain and Spine confirms that a smile sparks a powerful chemical reaction in the brain that can make you feel happier and less stressed.

Connect: Getting in even 15 – 20 minutes of play time or connection time per day is known to decrease misbehaviour in younger children and acting out or moodiness in teens.

Wishing you and your family a fun filled holiday celebration.

Angie Holstein, MSW, RSW

Social Worker, Psychotherapist

Creating change can feel overwhelming, but through supportive, non-judgmental dialogue, you can begin to better cope with the feelings, thoughts and behaviour patterns associated with your life's challenges.

19 views0 comments


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page