Anxious? Depressed? Stressed? That doesn’t sound too jolly. But for many children and adolescents, tis the season to contend with mental, emotional or behavioral challenges. While others enjoy the fun and festivities, for a child struggling with depression or anxiety, the holidays can leave them feeling conflicted and stressed.
There are several situations that may heighten the stress of a child during the holidays. The first is a child with divorced parents. Alan Ravitz, MD, MS, senior pediatric psychopharmacologist and senior director of forensic psychiatry for the Child Mind Institute, discuses this and other concepts in his article, Divorced for the Holidays: What to Give the Kids. Dr Ravitz suggests that divorced parents show their love by cooperating, not competing. “Because parents are adults, they need to make sacrifices for their children. And because children are children, they shouldn’t have to make sacrifices for their parents. Think of sacrifices for the benefit of your children as holiday presents.”
Adolescents struggling with addiction issues may also encounter more opportunities to escalate destructive behavior when on the holiday break. Jamison Monroe, Jr., founder and CEO of the Newport Academy, recently wrote in the Huffington Post that Holiday Stress Can Amplify Mental Health and Substance Abuse Issues. “With an abundance of alcohol and friends around during festive activities, triggers are all around. Being in their old bedroom or neighborhood can cause a shift in the recovery process. Or, even the notion of the holidays can send a child into depression as it may force them to confront memories they haven’t necessarily dealt with the rest of the year.”
Healthline offers advice for Handling Holiday Depression in Kids. The Child Mind Institute offers another resource about enjoying the Holiday Spirit – Minus the Stress. Psychology Today provides 7 Holiday Stress Busters for Kids. For general information about a topic like depression, a video is available from Clarity Child Guidance Center on Depression in Children and Adolescents. These topics may not seem so seasonal, but if they can help your kids have happier holidays, they’re worth a few minutes to read. We hope you find these resources helpful. Season’s Greetings to you and yours from One in Five Minds.