TAMPA (BLOOM) – Licensed Mental Health Counselor Kerry Conca LMHC, PAT, joined Gayle Guyardo the host of the global health and wellness show Bloom to share how to help your teens de-stress before the holidays.
“The holidays can be a time of joy and excitement but can also bring with it a lot of hustle and bustle. For teens to have good stress management skills during this time, parents will need to be the model for those skills. They need to see you advocating for yourself, setting boundaries, and taking time to unwind.” said Conca.
She went on to say, “I often tell families to start talking at dinner time together about “what was the challenge of the day today and how did you overcome that?” This is an easy way to help your teen start building that toolbox of skills that can help them manage stress.”
As adults are scrambling to get everything in order for the holidays, teens typically are gearing up for end of the semester exams.
“Things that I often hear teens stress about around the holidays include overly managed schedules, too many events planned, transitioning from a difficult end to a grading period or semester, grief related to changes in a family makeup such as divorce or other loss, etc.”, said Conca.
Conca also said the holidays are a good time to “connect and reflect” with your teen. “Start building in some structured time now to talk to your teen about what’s going on with them and validate their experiences. Reflect back what they might be feeling; teens want to feel seen, heard, and understood. Building on this skill with your teen now will go a long way during the business of the holiday season and is a great way to get proactive.”
Conca said it’s important to consider your teen’s developmental stage and work with that. In the teenage years, kids are really developing that sense of autonomy and establishing independence.
“They are trying out what it feels like to be an adult. Their self-care and support system are often within their peers and social networks so it’s important to allow them to have opportunities during their holiday breaks to make time for connecting with their peers.” said Conca.
She went on to say “I often hear teens talk about how busy their schedules are, and many times they complain about being over-scheduled during holiday breaks from school when they would really prefer some down time to do something they don’t normally get to do during the business of school, or time to meet up with friends.”
Although maintaining some routine helps during breaks from school, Conca said balance is equally as important to help fight that burn out just like we try to strive for as adults.
Conca also pointed out that communication is key.
“To help your teen destress, find out what they are really looking forward to during this holiday break. Let them know the schedule ahead of time so that you can get their input and offer compromises.”, said Conca.
Conca said there are going to be some events in a teen’s schedule over the holidays that you aren’t able to compromise on, but make sure that you are offering them some choices. “Start by saying here are the events and traditions that are important for us to do as a family, I will let you choose from these other things if you’d like to bring a friend, or do something else.”, said Conca.
She went on to say, “I often hear parents want their teens to be more flexible, but that means parents have to show some flexibility too.”