Helping A Troubled Teen Through the Holidays
The holidays can be a hard time for anyone, but particularly for teenagers who are already struggling with life in school, at home or even at both. If you want your teen to enjoy the holidays and let there be peace on Earth, then see below for some great ideas on how to handle a troubled teen during the holiday season.
Set the tone of the house. If you’re acting stressed and worried, your teen will pick up on those emotions, and channel them themselves. One way to prevent this is to try and keep your own emotions under control. By keeping things as low-key as possible, and really trying not to sweat the small stuff, the atmosphere in the house can remain calm and happy, which will prompt your teen to remain calm and happy.
Choose what is most important to you. When communicating with your teen about the upcoming holiday events, be prepared for some kickback. After all, they might be less excited about the extended family coming to stay as they are mostly focused on themselves and their privacy at this age. Make your expectations clear about what events or evenings they are expected to be at, and what you can let slide. Giving them a little freedom to do their own thing will help in wrangling them in during the events you want them to attend.
Read the room. When having family or friends over, there might be a member who tends to be crass, unfiltered or even rude, and this is something to prepare for in advance. Troubled teens are on the edge of their emotions to begin with, so being around someone who triggers them may take them over the edge, and the next thing you know, you’re dealing with an embarrassing blowout fight in the middle of dinner. Keep your eyes open and the space in the house plentiful. Excuse your teen from the table if you see they are reaching a breaking point and let them get a breather. Talk to them about the relatives that are coming, and how you expect them to act or how you deal with the ruder guests.
Keep the schedule as light as possible. With only a few months of family-oriented holidays to spend together, families and friends tend to overextend themselves to cram in as much time as they can together. This can manifest in an endless stream of dinners, parties, events and gatherings that may overwhelm your teen. If you are dealing with a particularly hard year for your teen, take it easy this year, and just let everyone know that you won’t be as available for everything. Take the time to politely decline and relish in the calm evenings at home.
Lastly, if you are seriously worried about how your troubled teen may act this holiday season, considering sending them to a winter-based troubled teen wilderness camp or a residential program where they can get the help they need, and you can focus on getting through your holidays without the added stress.