I experienced a significant negative event this year which was a culmination of several events. Only my immediate family and close friends are aware. The majority of my 490 friends on social media have no idea because my page has no indication of anything. Through exercise, meditation, journaling, watching comedians on Netflix and YouTube, talking to family and friends, and allowing myself to cry and feel my emotions, I am working through it.
News flash for you and your kids: Contrary to what you see on social media, not everyone is having a happy holiday season. Although we are inundated with images of happy families having a wonderful time celebrating the holidays, the reality is, this time of year can be difficult for some.
Not everything on social media is as it seems. Most people don’t post or talk about their struggles. It’s important to remind your children, not everyone, including them, may be having a happy holiday and that’s okay.
Some things that could be negatively impacting your kid’s emotions this season:
- a recent loss
- a breakup
- separation / divorce
- parent away serving in the military
- parent stress levels
- feeling alone or isolated
- family financial struggles
- conflict with friends or family
How to help your kids manage the holiday blues
- People’s lives are not as perfect as they look on social media. You only see what they choose to post.
- Everyone has struggles, problems, or even boring days that are not typically shared.
- If a post or a text is upsetting, TAKE A BREAK and BREATHE before you respond. Remember, impulsive actions could have long-term consequences.
- Ask yourself, “Do I like the way technology makes me feel? Do I feel happy and connected or sad and excluded?”
- You can do something different to change the way you feel. The first step could be a break from technology. (Sign up for our Tech Reset in January.)
Heart Tap* Self-soothe when stressed. Tap your breastbone in the center of your chest, with your fingertips. Tap as hard or soft, fast or slow as is comfortable
Laughter Laughing lifts your mood. It relaxes the body and relieves tension and stress. Find videos, movies, or comedy shows that make you laugh. Take a laughter break and LOL.
Write It, Rip It Focus on something you want to go away. Write down your thoughts, then rip up the paper.
Create Something Write, draw, paint, color, cook, or play an instrument.
Exercise Do some type of physical activity to get your blood pumping and your body moving. You will be surprised the effect this has on your mind and mood.
Support Team Choose an adult(s) in your life to use as support when something is too big to handle alone.
Practice mindfulness/ meditation Paying attention to the present moment and training your mind to be more aware can help with lowering stress and anxiety levels.
Gratitude Journal Write three specific things for which you’re grateful each day. Gratitude journals can increase happiness and empathy and help kids to focus on all they have instead of complaining about what they think they deserve.
Red flags that your child could benefit from talking to a professional
- Behavior problems in more than one setting
- Self-inflicted social isolation
- Excessive fears and worries
- Self-harming behaviors
- Focusing on death a great deal
- How you respond to your child’s emotions can impact their mental wellness down the line. Always trying to cheer them up or pressuring them to “get over it” could result in long-term problems because you are teaching them to resist their negative emotions. Kids need to learn how to tolerate bad feelings that exist and manage them over time.**
- Your emotions impact your children and they’re aware of what’s going on. Kids are sponges who observe you day in and day out. Model to your children how to label emotions and healthy ways to manage them. For example: “I am feeling sad that Grandma is gone this year, so I’m going to look at some photo albums to help remember some of the special times.”
We hope these tips help. Take some time during this crazy time of year for self-care. We’re grateful you’re joining us on this journey. Have a happy and healthy holiday season, hashtag parents!
**Csefel.vanderbilt.edu. (2018). [online] Available at: http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/documents/teaching_your_child-feeling.pdf [Accessed 21 Dec. 2018]
*Gray, Lee-Anne. “Chapter 3.” Self-Compassion for Teens: 129 Activities & Practices to Cultivate Kindness. PESI Publishing & Media, 2017, p. 47
Cheryl Kosmerl, MSW, LCSW
I'm a clinical social worker and child advocate. After more than 20 years of working with children and adolescents in a variety of settings I created Sexting Solutions, a successful program designed to teach kids to respect themselves and others, show empathy and stop abuse. Intended as an alternative to legal consequences for kids who were caught sexting, it focuses on building skills that develop a solid foundation for healthier adolescent years and beyond. Connect with me on LinkedIn by clicking the icon directly below.