December 17, 2013
For many people the holiday season is the most wonderful time of year. For others it the most stressful time of year and can lead to arguments, depression, substance abuse and violence.
“All families deal with stress at one time or another, but the pressure of the holidays can make it even greater,” said Sonia Quinonez, Executive Director of Stop Child Abuse Now of Northern Virginia (SCAN). “Families are dealing with busy schedules, high costs and long to-do lists, all natural triggers for more stress.”
One of the biggest causes of family stress is simply too much to do in a short period of time. From sports practices to tutoring sessions to friends’ parties, families often try to squeeze too much into a short period of time and end up not being able to enjoy any of it.
The tragic news is stress is a contributing factor to child abuse, and it increases during the holidays. SCAN is dedicated to preventing child abuse and helps adults learn how to be positive parents and create a nurturing environment where kids can thrive.
SCAN’s advice is to make the decision this year to help your family be less stressed and more happy together.
SCAN’s Four Steps to Decrease Holiday Stress
- Have a family conversation. Sit down as a family and make decisions about the traditions that are most important to all of you. Kids feel important when they are part of the decision-making process. You also might be surprised to hear that your child is more interested in playing ball with you in the backyard than spending all weekend making cookies.
- Just say “no.” If too many activities and events start to stress your family out, put a stop to it. Work together as a family to prioritize (and trim) your to-do list, get things done and enjoy time together.
- Keep the lines of communication open and adjust your priorities. If things are getting hectic and you decide not to do something that your family agreed on, then explain the reason. For example if your family knows you’re choosing not to do something like attend a neighborhood party because you’d rather spend quality time with them at home, then they’re more likely to understand and be happy with the decision. Sometimes a quiet night at home is what everyone needs to de-stress and feel connected as a family.
- Spend smart. Financial pressure is a leading cause of family stress. Parents often go overboard in spending (especially on their kids!) and end up neglecting the importance of quality time with their family. This year, make the switch. Concentrate more on how much time you are spending with your family instead of how much money you are spending on them. It’s always a better investment.SCAN has a holiday wish list to support its work with the hundreds of children and families it helps each year through parent education, community outreach and the Court Appointed Special Advocates program. The wish list includes nonperishable snacks, games, toys, books and crafts for kids and gift cards for adults. If you would like to contribute or learn more about SCAN, visit www.SCANVA.org.