Most people assume that for children, the holiday season is one of the best times of the year. Quite often this is the case. But not always. For children living with one parent, who are living in poverty, are battling an illness, are being bullied and more, the holiday season can be especially difficult when everyone around them is having fun. How can parents help their kids who are struggling cope and find some joy in the season?
Indra Singh knows what it’s like because she struggled with her mental health as a child. But for the last 25 years, she’s been on the other side, helping children and teens better their emotional health as a certified yoga master and counselor. She just released her new book “My Best Friend’s a Superhero.” https://indrasingh.com/
Between the pandemic and a very high suicide rate among teenagers, Indra says it’s especially important to lift children’s spirits this time of year. Her tips for parents to do this:
Give them your time: More than anything else in the world, kids just want to spend quality time with their parents. They want to feel wanted, listened to and given your full attention. It’s not about money or gifts. Take a few days and make it all about you and your kids. What you do is irrelevant. Just be together and connect with each other.
Validate them: Many teenagers often feel like they are constantly being knocked down from teachers, peers, coaches and even parents. Use this time at the holidays to boost your child’s self-esteem and validate them. Use complimentary phrases like “Great job,” “I’m so proud of you,” and “You can do it” to really help lift them up.
Put FOMO in its place: So many kids struggle with the fear of missing out, or FOMO. That gets magnified during the holidays when their friends share pictures of the gifts they got or the trips they took during break. Help kids appreciate everything they have. Even when they feel like everyone has a better life than they do, help show them the blessings they have that they are probably overlooking or taking for granted. Limiting social media can also reduce FOMO.
Help them be their own best friend: The most important lesson of all that parents can teach their kids this time of year, and always, is to look inward. In other words, most people tend to look to outside sources for comfort when they are feeling down. Instead, teach your kids to turn inward and make themselves feel better. This is a skill that children can carry with them for the rest of their lives to improve their emotional health.
Laughter is the best medicine: Kids have enough stress throughout the year, so make sure the holidays are a time filled with fun. The best way to do that is through laughter. Watch a lighthearted comedy. Tell jokes. Throw a holiday party. Dance. Tickle. Most kids absolutely love laughter yoga, which involves prolonged voluntary laughter. When done in groups, it’s contagious and everyone has a great time. It helps boost the natural “feel good” chemicals in the brain.