A Counselors Thoughts: Children and Holiday Stress

As a former school counselor, LFY teacher Jess Belanger has a unique perspective to share with us. She will be contributing a monthly article to our conversation, offering information to help parents and teacher support their kids. Click Here to learn more about Jess and all of our LFY teachers.

Throughout the school year, kids often look forward to three things: Friday afternoons, extended holiday breaks, and the start of summer vacation.  After a brisk autumn filled with apple picking, football games, trick-or-treating, and giving thanks, the holiday season has finally arrived and like many, your kids may be bouncing off the walls in excited anticipation of the upcoming vacation from school.  For some, however, the holidays can be a stressful time filled with worry, anxiety, and the fear of a break in an already comfortable school routine. 

Whether they have a sick family member, their family is facing a financial hardship, or even have a history of abuse within their home, changing up the regular Monday through Friday school regimen and spending more time at home can sometimes be troublesome for a child.  Both friends and teachers that may have served as a support system are no longer readily available, and children may have to use whatever coping mechanisms they have in order to get through their difficult time at home.  Often the longest break during the school year, the upcoming December holiday break can trigger quite a change in a child’s regular personality and behavior weeks before the actual vacation begins.  As yoga teachers and parents, it is imperative that we focus our attention on the impact that this transition may have on our children and, if they are struggling, try to provide comfort and support during this challenging time.

When life at home is less than ideal, an increase in the time spent there and away from the comfort of friends and teachers can manifest itself in many different ways.  Perhaps the easiest way to notice any changes among a child is to step back and observe their behaviors and interactions.  As the holiday break approaches, how is your child acting?  Are they overcome with joy and excitement, or does their demeanor seem to be a bit more subdued?  Perhaps they are acting out more than usual or withdrawn from their typical peer group.  As a parent, maybe you notice that your child is on edge when they are at home.  Are they demonstrating some difficulty with or resistance to completing their homework?  All of these markers may indicate that something more is going on and are definitely worth exploring. 

If you are a yoga teacher or parent and you suspect that a child is behaving differently, the first course of action is to check in with them.  This may be a quick and easy way to get to the root of the issue and you can begin seeking the appropriate steps to help them.  If talking to them proves to be fruitless and you are still concerned, take the time to observe your kids’ actions and behaviors more closely.  Should you notice anything out of the ordinary, perhaps there is more to the story and it might be beneficial to investigate further.  Finally, talk to other teachers and school support staff if you notice any atypical behavior or have concerns regarding a child.  These individuals are here to help your kids and have the training and resources to do so.

Teachable Tip:
To best serve today’s children, we must be present and aware.  With a busy holiday season approaching, be a constant observer and remain cognizant of the needs of those around you.  It is our role as yoga teachers and parents to be mindful of changes in our little ones and available to offer support at the time when they may need it most.

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