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Holiday Season Emotional Health

posted Dec 14, 2015, 12:20 PM by Brenda Williams   [ updated Dec 14, 2015, 12:23 PM ]
The Holiday Season is filled with lists. Lists for holiday planning, ingredient lists, and most importantly, wish lists. As I reviewed my five-year-old’s 2015 Wish List, I was lost in the young boy’s anticipation. First on the list, a “Dump truck with a snow plow, tandem axle trailer and skidsteer with tracks.” Fully knowing that my son doesn’t mean the toy variety, but the real thing, I found myself reflecting upon the stresses and strains associated with the holiday season. “How can we ever live up to that expectation?” “What can we do that will match that?” As I pondered, I found myself wrapped up in the material nature of the holiday, and not in the true meaning of the season. In discussions with our middle school counselor, Ali Ross, we would like to remind our households of the need to be ultra-aware of our students during this exciting time of year.

As adults, it is natural to swing with the highs and lows of the season. Children experience a similar swing in emotions; however, often with more intensity. The holiday season brings an intense flow of traffic through the counseling office - anxiety of family dynamics, anticipation of gifts, exhaustion from over scheduling, or fear of days away from their routine. Children and adolescents oftentimes cannot identify what is triggering the swing in emotions. There is such a rapid change physically, intellectually, socially, and emotionally that it can feel overwhelming to navigate the world of a teenager.

This holiday season, we ask you to check in with your emotional health and how it could be affecting your children. How can you maximize positive emotions and attain a balance of negative ones? In middle school, you may notice your child changing. Every child is unique and the challenges of scary body changes, self-consciousness, self-doubt, over-confidence, and/or moodiness are presented at this age. When it feels like your child is pulling away, they actually need their parents more than ever. Research shows that a positive family environment including fun family activities, open parent-child communication and the encouragement of extracurricular/community activities provide a foundation for children to flourish.

A few things to keep in mind over the winter break: 
  • Keeping children close to their routine during winter break will significantly help the transition back to school in January. Too often, children struggle to come back in January simply due to the lack of sleep or regular bedtime routine during the break. Students can easily fall behind in their schoolwork and have trouble getting caught up by the end of the second quarter (January 15th).
  • Keep reading!!! Read together or read alone - simply keep reading!
  • Unplug - what does your household look like when you put away the devices?!

As you review wish lists this year, we hope you will take time to reflect on what this holiday season means for you and your child(ren). With all the RSVP’s and expectations, how will you include meaningful family activities, have intentional conversations, and live in the moments you have with loved ones?

The staff at Pequot Lakes Middle School care deeply for your children and wish you a wonderful holiday season.

-- Ali Ross, MS Counselor / Mike O'Neil, MS Principal