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Holiday stress: Help your kids through the holiday season

The holidays are upon us. And while that means lots of fun and joy with family and friends, the holiday festivities can be stressful and overwhelming for kids – and their parents. To help you get through this season successfully, received some tips and tricks from counselors at Kids Help Phone, a toll-free, 24-hour, anonymous phone counseling line (1-800-668-6868) for young people in Canada. Their advice? Schedule, inform and listen.

Stressed boy at Christmas


Decrease holiday stress by planning with your kids

DO make time in your schedule to talk about the holidays with your kids. Put it in your agenda, if that’s what it takes to set aside time. Or bring it up in the car when you’re together. This helps create a dialogue between you and your child and lets them know they can speak with you about anything that’s bothering them.

DO make a schedule of upcoming holiday events. Mark events boldly and post it prominently on the fridge, for example, so kids will know clearly what’s coming up and what to expect. Surprises may be overwhelming at this time of year.


Talk with your kids about holiday problems

DON’T leave your kids in the dark. If your holidays are going to be impacted by financial challenges, for example, let the kids know in advance. This will take pressure off you to provide more than you can comfortably, and it puts kids in the loop. Also, try to make the holidays fun despite the problems you may be facing. If you’re cash-strapped, throw a present-making day, so children won’t feel bad about not being able to buy you or their siblings something.


Be available to talk with your kids about holiday stressors

DO ask what their expectations or worries are for the holidays; it could be they’re concerned about a classmate who won’t be getting any gifts or are worried about splitting their holidays between two homes, due to divorce or separation. They’ll welcome the chance to talk about it with you.

DON’T grill your child or pepper them with questions about how they’re feeling. It doesn’t open the door to discussion and dialogue. Let them know you’re interested and available when they need or want to talk to you. They will come to you when they’re ready.

For more information or other parenting tips and tricks, visit

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