Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for joyous celebrations and coming together of family and friends. This year we’re right in the middle of the three-week pandemic pause—and with safe-health distancing, it’s going to look very different. Because the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving 2020 is to celebrate at home with the people you live with.
As a result, our stress levels will probably be higher than usual. And that’s okay. Below are some tips and tools to help you and your family navigate “a new normal” during during the holidays. (Compiled by Starfish Trauma Informed Care Specialist Alice Santa, MSCP, TLLP. Materials adapted from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network and Connecticut Children’s.)
Parents & Caregivers: Taking care of YOU will increase your patience with your children & ease their distress.
- Allow yourself to feel sad, worried, or angry.
- Do something to take care of yourself.
- Listen to your favorite song.
- Take some deep breaths.
- Go on a walk.
- Get enough rest.
- Eat well.
- Try to adjust your expectations.
- Focus on what you are grateful for during the holiday season.
- Children look up to you and model your behaviors and energy. If you reflect positive, festive, and calm behaviors, your children will pick up on those cues and do the same.
Children (0-12 years old): Moments of connection allow children to feel loved and seen.
- Examples of connection moments:
- Playing together
- Eating together
- Talking about their day
- Singing holiday songs together
- Hugging and holding your child
- Validate children’s emotions!
- Let them know it’s normal and OK to feel angry, frustrated, or sad about the changes to their holiday traditions.
- For younger children, keep things simple in terms of explanations and celebrations.
- Get creative about how to express thanks for what’s near and dear right now.
- Instead of in-person visits, try writing letters or making cards.
- Ask them for their ideas about how to make the holiday special.
Teenagers and Young Adults: Listen! When teens talk, they often want to feel heard, not to have you solve the problem.
- Ask them how they are feeling. Validate their feelings and let them know you are there if they need to talk.
- Allow them a sense of control by giving them choices, such as allowing them to plan a special activity or, maybe, help out with cooking if it’s something they enjoy.
- Engage in self-care activities with them.
- Disconnect from electronics for a little each day
- Practice relaxation activities together:
- Slow breathing