6 Tips for Preserving Your Family’s Mental Health This Holiday Season
This position is made possible with support from the American Academy of Pediatrics through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All opinions are mine. As the first term of our new virtual school year drew to a close, I assigned an exit question as a way to check in with […]

This position is made possible with support from the American Academy of Pediatrics through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All opinions are mine.

As the first term of our new virtual school year drew to a close, I assigned an exit question as a way to check in with my students.

My goal as a teacher has always been to create a positive environment where my students can learn. Even though we're not in the classroom together, I can sense their stress on Zoom and through the emails they sent about homework and deadlines. I know it's for me to ask because so many times my students won't share unless I open the door for a conversation to take place.

The same is true with our children and our parent friends. This year we've all changed because of COVID, and as the winter break approaches, we can now feel particularly hard.

Many of us don't plan to travel to visit grandparents, relatives or friends. We prioritize the health of our loved ones over family traditions and togetherness, but this hurts us, our children and our friends within our circles.

Since this time of year can be stressful, take time before the holidays to introduce the idea of ​​ACEs. Friends and loved ones need to know who they are and how they can impact adulthood life. Although ACEs are different from COVID-19 stress, we can use our current empathy and apply it forward.

If you are not familiar with ACE, they include emotional, physical and sexual child abuse and neglect of children (emotional and physical), parental or household mental illness, and parent or household drug / alcohol abuse. They can result from witnessing domestic violence, having a parent or family member in prison, or separating or divorced.

ACEs are so common that 61% of adults have experienced at least 1 ACE. Chances are, if you had one, you had several negative experiences as a child. 16% of adults have had 4 or more types of ACE.

ACEs cause toxic stress that can impair brain development and affect the body's response to normal stress. Since adverse childhood experiences are so common, their effects can build up over time.

6 tips to keep your family in good health this holiday season

This year, make a plan to keep your sanity up as the holidays approach. We all have the potential to make a difference when it comes to ACE and create positive vacation experiences at the same time.

Here are 6 tips to keep your family in good health this holiday season.

Find your "three"

During this difficult time, we adults need to make sure that our support system is in place. Secure, stable and rewarding relationships prevent CEAs. Connections and relationships are essential, so make sure you have three people or resources you can rely on.

Family, friends and neighbors can be a great support in person. Even those who live far away can be great sources of support, as social media, DMs and texts keep us connected 24/7.

Also look for local resources such as parent groups, school staff such as teachers, counselors and administrators, and community organizations whose members have similar interests as you.

This idea of ​​# findyour3 avoids the impact of ACEs. Identify the people, policies and organizations that are part of your support system and learn more about ACEs here.

Teach Your Kids to Be Someone Else's Three

Children of all ages want to give gifts to those they love, but help them understand that a gift isn't always something physical. Use the idea of ​​gifts and the holiday season to indicate an inexpensive way to make a difference in someone's life.

Talk about how YOU are going to offer to be one of someone's three. Teach them ACE, the importance of support systems, and letting them know that an offer to be someone's “three” is an important gift that costs nothing.

Work together to make a map by hand, shoot a video, or set a time for Facetime or Zoom. They can also make and send an ornament to a friend or loved one to follow all year round to remind them that they have your support.

Teach your children to identify three people or resources they can rely on to create safe, stable and nurturing relationships and environments. Also remind them of the importance of being someone's "three" during the holidays and throughout the year because you never know when a friend or loved one will need it.

Keep calm

There are currently a lot of uncertainties that can put us in danger. COVID cases are on the rise, hybrid schools are closing and returning to virtual learning, and as winter approaches we have less sunlight that our bodies need for natural serotonin production.

  • Children rely on their parents for their safety, both physical and emotional. It is important to reassure your children that you are there for them and that your family will be fine together.
  • Continue to answer questions about the pandemic simply and honestly. Talk about any scary news they might hear while emphasizing that practices like hand washing, wearing masks, and staying home can keep your family safe.
  • Recognize their feelings as a way to help them overcome their worries.
  • As difficult as it can be, model how to deal with feelings. Talk to them about how you deal with your own feelings.
  • Offer extra hugs and let them know you love them more often.

Maintain healthy routines

It can be tempting to let bedtime rules slip away during winter vacation, but it's important to maintain fitness, bedtime, time together, and other routines. Routines always create a sense of order that is reassuring in very uncertain times. All children, including adolescents, benefit from routines that are predictable but flexible enough to meet individual needs.

Enjoy a special moment

Even with everyone at home, it's important to have a special time with each child. Put your phone on silent and do something they love together, even for 10 or 20 minutes.

Giving each child your full attention is important. This special time creates space for 1-1 conversations that will allow you to record yourself on each child.

Take a step back and take care of yourself

Each of us is doing a lot right now. We cannot be the best for our children, our spouse or our co-workers if we are not aware of the importance of taking care of ourselves. Take a step back and take care of yourself by making time out of your day to do the things you love.

Reading, exercising, and catching up with a friend or loved one who is in your "threes" is important for maintaining mental health this holiday season and beyond.

How are you "be the threeThis holiday season and help build safe, stable and nurturing relationships and environments?


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Take charge. Children crave limits, which help them understand and manage an often confusing world. Show your love by setting boundaries so your kids can explore and discover their passions safely.

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Don’t try to fix everything. Give young kids a chance to find their own solutions. When you lovingly acknowledge a child’s minor frustrations without immediately rushing in to save her, you teach her self-reliance and resilience.

Pick your battles. Kids can’t absorb too many rules without turning off completely. Forget arguing about little stuff like fashion choices and occasional potty language. Focus on the things that really matter -- that means no hitting, rude talk, or lying.

Play with your children. Let them choose the activity, and don’t worry about rules. Just go with the flow and have fun. That’s the name of the game.

Read books together every day. Get started when he’s a newborn; babies love listening to the sound of their parents’ voices. Cuddling up with your child and a book is a great bonding experience that will set him up for a lifetime of reading.

Schedule daily special time. Let your child choose an activity where you hang out together for 10 or 15 minutes with no interruptions. There’s no better way for you to show your love.

Encourage daddy time. The greatest untapped resource available for improving the lives of our children is time with Dad -- early and often. Kids with engaged fathers do better in school, problem-solve more successfully, and generally cope better with whatever life throws at them.

Make warm memories. Your children will probably not remember anything that you say to them, but they will recall the family rituals -- like bedtimes and game night -- that you do together.

Be the role model your children deserve. Kids learn by watching their parents. Modeling appropriate, respectful, good behavior works much better than telling them what to do.

Fess up when you blow it. This is the best way to show your child how and when she should apologize.

Take charge. Children crave limits, which help them understand and manage an often confusing world. Show your love by setting boundaries so your kids can explore and discover their passions safely.

Live a little greener. Show your kids how easy it is to care for the environment. Waste less, recycle, reuse, and conserve each day. Spend an afternoon picking up trash around the neighborhood.

Always tell the truth. It’s how you want your child to behave, right ? Kiss and hug your spouse in front of the kids. Your marriage is the only example your child has of what an intimate relationship styles, feels, and sounds like. So it’s your travail to set a great standard.

Give appropriate praise. Instead of simply saying, ' You’re great, ' try to be specific about what your child did to deserve the positive feedback. You might say, ' Waiting until I was off the phone to ask for cookies was hard, and I really liked your patience. '

Cheer the good stuff. When you notice your child doing something helpful or nice, let him know how you feel. It’s a great way to reinforce good behavior so he’s more likely to keep doing it.

Gossip about your kids. Fact : What we overhear is far more potent than what we are told directly. Make praise more effective by letting your child ' catch ' you whispering a compliment about him to Grandma, Dad, or even his teddy.

Give yourself a break. Hitting the drive-through when you’re too tired to cook doesn’t make you a bad responsable d'un enfant.

Trust your mommy gut. No one knows your child better than you. Follow your instincts when it comes to his health and well-being. If you think something’s wrong, probabilités are you’re right. Just say ' No. ' Resist the urge to take on extra obligations at the office or become the Volunteer Queen at your child’s school. You will never, ever regret spending more time with your children.

Don’t accept disrespect from your child. Never allow her to be rude or say hurtful things to you or anyone else. If she does, tell her firmly that you will not tolerate any form of disrespect. Pass along your plan. Mobilize the other caregivers in your child’s life -- your spouse, grandparents, daycare worker, babysitter -- to help reinforce the values and the behavior you want to instill. This includes everything from saying thank you and being kind to not whining.

Ask your children three ' you ' questions every day. The art of conversation is an important social skill, but parents often neglect to teach it. Get a kid going with questions like, ' Did you have fun at school ? ' ; ' What did you do at the party you went to ? ' ; or ' Where do you want to go tomorrow afternoon ? ' Teach kids this bravery trick. Tell them to always notice the color of a person’s eyes. Making eye contact will help a hesitant child appear more confident and will help any kid to be more assertive and less likely to be picked on.

Acknowledge your kid’s strong emotions. When your child’s meltdown is over, ask him, ' How did that feel ? ' and ' What do you think would make it better ? ' Then listen to him. He’ll recover from a tantrum more easily if you let him talk it out.

Show your child how to become a responsible citizen. Find ways to help others all year. Kids gain a sense of self-worth by volunteering in the community. Don’t raise a spoiled kid. Keep this thought in mind : Every child is a treasure, but no child is the center of the universe. Teach him accordingly.

Talk about what it means to be a good person. Start early : When you read bedtime stories, for example, ask your toddler whether characters are being mean or nice and explore why. Explain to your kids why values are important. The simple answer : When you’re kind, generous, honest, and respectful, you make the people around you feel good. More important, you feel good about yourself.

Set up a ' gratitude circle ' every night at dinner. Go around the table and take turns talking about the various people who were generous and kind to each of you that day. It may sound corny, but it makes everyone feel good.

Serve a food again and again. If your child rejects a new dish, don’t give up hope. You may have to offer it another six, eight, or even 10 times before he eats it and decides he likes it. Avoid food fights. A healthy child instinctively knows how much to eat. If he refuses to finish whatever food is on his plate, just let it go. He won’t starve.

Eat at least one meal as a family each day. Sitting down at the table together is a relaxed way for everyone to connect -- a time to share happy news, talk about the day, or tell a silly joke. It also helps your kids develop healthy eating habits. Let your kids place an order. Once a week, allow your children to choose what’s for dinner and cook it for them.

Say ' I love you ' whenever you feel it, even if it’s 743 times a day. You simply can not spoil a child with too many mushy words of affection and too many smooches. Not possible. Keep in mind what grandmoms always say. Children are not yours, they are only lent to you for a time. In those fleeting years, do your best to help them grow up to be good people. Savor the moments. Yes, parenthood is the most exhausting job on the planet. Yes, your house is a mess, the laundry’s piled up, and the dog needs to be walked. But your kid just laughed. Enjoy it now -- it will be over far too fast.

Teach your baby to sign. Just because a child can’t talk doesn’t mean there isn’t lots that she’d like to say. Simple signs can help you know what she needs and even how she feels well before she has the words to tell you -- a great way to reduce frustration. Keep the tube in the family room. Research has repeatedly shown that children with a TV in their bedroom weigh more, sleep less, and have lower grades and poorer social skills. P. S. Parents with a television in their bedroom have sex less often. Get kids moving. The latest research shows that brain development in young children may be linked to their activity level. Place your baby on her tummy several times during the day, let your toddler walk instead of ride in her stroller, and create opportunities for your older child to get plenty of exercise.

Get your kids vaccinated. Outbreaks of measles and other diseases still occur in our country and throughout the world. Protect that smile. Encouraging your kid to brush twice a day with a dab of fluoride toothpaste will guard against cavities. Be vigilant about safety. Babyproof your home thoroughly, and never leave a child under 5 in the tub alone. Make sure car seats are installed correctly, and insist that your child wear a helmet when riding his bike or scooter. Listen to the doc. If your pediatrician thinks your kid’s fever is caused by a malware, don’t push for antibiotics. The best medicine may be rest, lots of fluids, and a little TLC. Overprescribing antibiotics can cause medical problems for your child and increase the chances of creating superbugs that resist treatment.

Keep sunblock next to your kid’s toothpaste. Apply it every day as part of the morning routine. It’ll become as natural as brushing her teeth. Put your baby to bed drowsy but still awake. This helps your child learn to soothe himself to sleep and prevents bedtime problems down the line. Know when to toilet train. Look for these two signs that your child is ready to use the potty : He senses the urge to pee and poop ( this is different from knowing that he’s already gone ), and he asks for a diaper change.

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