Child Psychiatry

How to Survive the Holidays with an Anxious Kid

The holiday season can be a stressful time for parents with children who struggle with anxiety. When you put holiday stress and family together, it’s no wonder that anxiety presents!

However, there are many things that parents of anxious kids can do to have a good holiday experience.

In this video we’ll discuss how to survive the holidays with an anxious kid:

 

 

Establishing Routines

What are the must-dos that you’ll keep repeating throughout the day? Create a holiday schedule with these items in mind and share it with your child to help them understand what is happening each day.

For example, if there’s an event on Saturday morning but nothing until Sunday evening, share this information with them through a calendar on the fridge or some other visual reminder of events. 

Maintain holiday traditions. What are some holiday rituals that your child enjoys?

  • Do you have a song to sing each year on Christmas Eve?
  • Do you go to church?
  • Do you  decorate cookies together every year? 

If you do, put it on the calendar and discuss it with your anxious child. 

Answer any questions your child may have about holiday activities that are different than what they’re used to by telling them how it will be fun, with possible examples of things they’ll get a chance to do or see.

Maintaining Structure

When it comes to maintaining those structures and schedules, it’s best to focus on the routines. Try to keep some structure by continuing routines from your child’s normal schedule.

For example, if your child’s bedtime is 8 PM make sure they are in bed by that time throughout the holiday season.

Furthermore, make sure holiday celebrations are planned out and that your child understands what will happen, where they’re going to be, when it’ll start, etc., so they are not surprised by anything.

Inevitably there will be changes, but when a change does happen, explain exactly what will happen to your child so they are not surprised.

Keeping Communication Open

Keep communication open at all times! If something bothers your child or if they have a difficult time with any aspect of this holiday season- create a safe place for them to share those thoughts.

If you see that your child is struggling, ask them how they are feeling.

It’s important that parents know how their children are feeling during this time so that they can anticipate what might happen or provide all the support they need.

So, those are my 3 tips to help your anxious child this holiday season:

  1. Establish routines
  2. Try to provide consistent structure
  3. Keep communication open.


If you see your child exhibiting signs of anxiety, and would like some extra support, please reach out to us today. We can help.

Hillary Wolfe, Child Therapist