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October 28, 2013

Holiday Time is Family Time

By Tampa Bay Parenting

The holiday season is one that is festively and notoriously busy. Amidst all the traveling, cooking, entertaining, cleaning, shopping, wrapping and baking – it’s easy to let spending quality time with your kids slip through the very tiny cracks in a full schedule.

However, the holidays can also be a hard time for children and young adults. Many professionals believe that there is a link to increased depression rates and the holiday season. From the clinically diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder  (SAD) to general feelings of woe and loneliness, sometimes holiday cheer isn’t so easy to come by.

Therefore, as parents it’s important to use the holiday season as a time to make cherished memories with your kids, and to talk to them about the big things in life that really matter. Here are some suggestions for spending quality time with your kids this season.

1. Craft with the little ones.

Younger children are often bouncing around with energy this time of year, whether from all the buzz of holiday excitement or from the sugar in holiday sweets. One way to spend time with your kids and use up some of that energy is to be creative together! Include your children’s handiwork in the season’s décor. Trace their hands on colorful paper to make turkeys. Paint small stones to make custom festive name cards for the table. Collect pinecones and fill a pretty bowl to make a centerpiece. Take a few minutes to watch your children express themselves artistically, and grow closer together in the process.

2. Turkey talk with teens – What are you thankful for?

A common family tradition at Thanksgiving tables across the country is to have each dinner guest say what they are thankful for. The pressure for coming up with an answer in front of people may entice your teen to close up and resent giving a public answer. This presents a great opportunity to talk about thankfulness and gratitude in a one-on-one setting with your teen before the big conversation surrounded by other relatives. Take her out for hot chocolate and spend an hour or two chatting and getting to know what she is thankful for. Throw around a football for a while on a nice fall evening and talk to your son about his gifts, abilities and blessings. If the conversation seems stiff, start by asking about 3 good things that happened to them today. See where the conversation flows from there.  Instilling an attitude of gratitude at this age is key for the future of your parent-child relationship.
3. Growing up with gratitude.

As your kids grow, hopefully so will the bond you share with them. If you have older, grown up children, you can show them the importance of continuing thankfulness well into adult life. Talk with them about what you are thankful for – including their successes and triumphs! Even if your kids aren’t “kids” anymore, you can continue to instill values like gratitude in your children who are grown-ups. Everyone still needs guidance from mom and dad, no matter how old you get.

The holiday season presents challenges that sometimes add more stress or sadness than the cheer of carols, cocoa or candy can overcome. Spending quality time with your children reminds parents what’s important during this festive time and creates memories to cherish for a lifetime.

For more information about how to address sensitive issues with your children, visit LiveFree! online at www.pinellascoalition.com.

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