How to Get Your Family Through a Pandemic Holiday
Here's how you can talk to kids about missing loved ones, manage holiday disappointments, manage your kids' and your anxiety, and more this holiday season.
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Managing Your Childrens’ Anxiety this Holiday Season
While many things will be different this year, some don’t have to change at all, and keeping those constants can help your child feel less anxious this year. Get your child involved in planning for the holiday by asking what their favorite parts of holidays past have been and do your best to replicate the things you can. Ask your child: What should we eat? What decorations should we make or put up? Who should we invite on a Zoom call? Should we send cards to special people who are usually with us on the holiday? Cohen says keeping an open dialogue with your child will help make them feel calm and happy.
“It might be surprising to hear your child’s answers and to get their insight as to what parts of the holiday makes them anxious,” Cohen says. “You will learn what things you can do to adjust their anxiety once you know what specifically causes it. For example, if they say they would be less anxious if they could see their friends, you know you have to set up a Zoom play date for them with that person.”
Managing Your Own Anxiety this Holiday Season
While you may feel compelled to make sure everyone else is happy this holiday, your own mental health is just as important. Plus, the happier and more stress-free you feel, the happier your kids will be too. If you feel yourself getting anxious, Cohen suggests taking deep breaths and drinking water in that moment. If you’re feeling guilty about not hosting family members with nowhere to go, “get out of your head” and take a reality check. Remember: We’re all doing this so we can be together next year and everyone is having a compromised holiday. No one asked for a “weird” holiday this year, but it’s what we’ve got so we have to accept that it’s not in our control. Putting a positive spin on everything this holiday season, whether it’s Zoom or a smaller holiday dinner, can help children respond similarly.
Giving Hope for Future Holidays
With so much uncertainty in the world right now, you may be wondering how you can ensure your kids are hopeful for special occasions, holidays, and years to come (especially if you aren’t feeling quite hopeful yourself these days). Cohen suggests using language that expresses hopefulness and future, like: “We should be able to have a party or celebration next holiday. And if we’re not ready yet, I promise we’ll figure out another way to do fun things and party.” You can also help kids feel hopeful by reminding them all of the things your family has to be thankful for this year, like the food you have to eat, the house you have to live in, the family you can be around, being able to learn, etc.
Whatever your family does this holiday, all of us at NYMetroParents sincerely hope it’s a happy one with as little stress as possible.