By Cary Quashen CAS
I am a firm believer that expectations set us up, especially during the holiday season. A new study found that people experience holiday stress due to unrealistic expectations. The study conducted by Tony Jurich, a Kansas State University expert on family relationships found that people feel like failures when they are unable to meet their expectations.
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According the study, people feel like they need to meet or surpass the holiday experiences of previous years. Many people try to make it a perfect holiday or try to re-create positive holiday memories, and in the process of doing so, ultimately end up losing much of their holiday enjoyment.
Just as adults feel stressed out or get the holiday blues, so do teens. Things like hectic schedules, financial stress, increased family conflicts or misunderstandings, pressure to live up to idealized images of holidays and family life, changes in diet and routines, cabin fever, and increased grief about divorce, death, or other significant family changes all add to the stress many teenagers feel, especially at this time of the year.
And many teens feel empty because the holidays are not the same as when they were young kids.
Here are some simple steps to get your teen through the holiday season. First, it’s our job to help our teens manage their feelings. That means we must encourage them to talk, and help them express their feelings. This is where listening comes in. Really listening means no judgment or over reaction, but instead, help them to solve their own problems.
Set the example and teach charitable actions. It’s easy to lose sight of what the holidays are really about. Doing something for someone else can help change our teen’s outlook, as well as ours.
If holiday expectations don’t live up to past memorable occasions, begin a new family tradition and ask your teen to help create that new tradition.
I think we all know that the holidays can be very difficult for anyone touched by divorce, death and any significant family change. This is especially true for kids and teens. Family fights often break out in families where there are shared custody arrangements. Kids may have to split time between two households or spend time with new stepparents or siblings. There may be unfamiliar routines. There may be many painful reminders of the past. There is also an extra focus on cheerfulness and family togetherness. All these can increase sadness and stress for our teens.
If your family has gone through a change recently, it is even more important to encourage your teens to talk about their feelings. Let them know that their feelings are normal. Remind them that, over time, things will get easier. But for now, they need all the support they can get. Give them permission to skip some activities that are too painful. Again, you may want to start a new family tradition, as a way of making a new start.
Cary Quashen is the president and founder of Action Parent & Teen Support Group Programs and Action Family Counseling. He can be reached at (661) 297-8691.
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Source: Santa Clarita News