Finally, the most wonderful time of the year is upon us, and from all of us here at Madison Local Schools, we want to wish you the happiest of holidays! The holiday season is one full of cheer and love for family and friends, but some of us may experience some anxiety with people visiting – and possibly staying – during our celebrations. We wanted to share some ways to look after your family members this holiday season — this is the time for us to be together and happy, and the best way to do that is to check in on yourself and your loved ones.
The easiest place to start is sleeping habits. Studies show that teenagers need between 9-10 hours of sleep per night, and assuming they don’t get that during the school semesters, don’t be surprised if your teenager at home seems to be sleeping more than usual! While sleeping too much can be related to mental health issues, the holiday break is the time for students to catch up on that sleep they’ve been missing.
Family parties and get-togethers can be difficult for individuals who suffer from social anxiety; large crowds of people asking copious numbers of questions can be overwhelming for those who aren’t used to being around that many people, and especially for those who might not know the answers to the questions being asked. Before the large shenanigans, take a second to check in with your family members about how comfortable they feel with the upcoming plans, and make sure to reiterate that you want to create a safe place where they can feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions. If someone divulges that s/he is uncomfortable with large crowds, check in with him/her throughout the party, avoid questions or comments like, “So-and-so is particularly quiet tonight,” “Nice of you to join us,” and so on. For individuals who feel uncomfortable in this situation, comments like these only make the matter worse, as attention is being drawn directly to the person, and the room expects an answer.
While school can be a topic of triumph for some, for others it could trigger embarrassment or even irritation. Instead of questions like, “How is school going?” and “How were your grades this semester?” perhaps try more inclusive questions for the table, such as, “Would anyone like to share something they accomplished since we last all saw each other?” This opens up the conversation for triumphs in sports, music, work life, personal life, etc.
Most importantly, sit down with everyone in your family, large or small, and make sure everyone knows how loved and cherished they are. As a growing child or adolescent, even though love is present, it can still sometimes be hard to feel. Spend a little extra time telling your loved ones that this holiday season wouldn’t be the same without them.