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Tips from CMHA WW for child and youth wellness during the holidays


The holiday period can be a stressful time. This can be especially true for children and youth.

As a recent Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) and Ipsos Public Affairs survey reveals, half of parents have been concerned for their child’s anxiety level and 36 per cent of parents have talked to a health professional about their child’s mental health.

This time of year can bring up negative feelings for kids who have suffered a traumatic event, or it can be a renewal of grief for those who have lost loved ones. Sometimes large gatherings can cause an increase in anxiety or exacerbate behavioural issues. The reduced sunlight and time outside during the winter can also trigger bouts of depression or seasonal affective disorder.

For families with older children, youth may be more aware of the stresses being placed on parents. It is difficult to shelter a teenager from financial stresses and difficulties of strained family relations. For a child suffering with feelings of anxiety or depression, these problems can make the holidays more difficult for them and the entire family.

Below, you’ll finds tips to help lessen the stress over the next couple of weeks.

  1. Keep the lines of communication with your child open. Make time to check in with how they are feeling and doing over the holiday period. A little one-on-one time with them can make a big difference in helping them cope.
  2. Make sure everyone is eating and sleeping. Especially for younger children, try not to vary too widely from meal times and sleeping routines. This may not be plausible all the time, but do your best. For teenagers, try to ensure they go to sleep and wake up at reasonable hours.
  3. Create and manage realistic expectations. You may need to make some adjustments to your schedules and activities to support your child. Not every gathering, event or activity will work well. Do what is best for your family.
  4. Be open to negotiate with your youth. One hour with extended family may be manageable whereas a five-hour visit is too much and can be overwhelming.
  5. Maintain healthy boundaries for yourself. It is okay to say no without guilt. Say yes when you want to, not out of obligation or to please others. Take care of your own physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
  6. Before the holidays, know your local resources in case you or your child need mental health support. In Waterloo-Wellington, Here 24/7 is available at all hours at 1-844-437-3247.
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