So, for many of us (me included), January can be a tough month. The decorations have been packed away, the turkey in all its various forms – curry, stew, soup, pie – has been finished off for another year and children have returned – reluctantly for some – to school or nursery. I say some, as not everyone is the same and some people love the new year with the promise of new goals, a reset or building on what 2022 had already delivered. I have to acknowledge this (grudgingly) because Michelle told me to!
The Christmas break often brings its own stresses – we indulge in food we might not normally eat, routines are all over the place and tiredness for both parents and children can mean grumpiness (parents), stroppiness (children) and tantrums (both parents and children) are in plentiful supply. The return to school and the start of the new year can bring on lots of mixed emotions from excitement and expectation to fear, anxiety and concern.
So, at this time of year, how can we support our children if they are struggling?
- Re-establish routines – you know your children best, what will help them get back into the familiar routines? Children thrive on being able to predict what will be happening next – it actually fosters feelings of security and safety in all of us. Having a consistent bedtime routine will help the morning wake up. Allow for cuddle time with you – just a few minutes first thing can make a huge difference and set the whole tone of the morning (be warned some teenagers might reject this – but it can be fun to suggest!).
- Talk through what may be causing concerns and anxiety for your child, making sure that this is appropriate for their age. Ignoring anxieties won’t mean they’re not there, but it can mean they build up until they feel overwhelming.
- Listen, and acknowledge their worries, however small they may seem to you. However tempting it can be to step in and problem solve for them, it can help to ask your child what they feel might help them. Offer reassurance and let them know it is Ok to feel anxious, they are normal feelings that everyone experiences from time to time.
- Get outside – most children love being outside regardless of the weather. I think the saying is – there is no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothes. Wrap up warm and put on the wellies – you never know you might enjoy it too. There is so much evidence now that backs exercise and getting outside in daylight having a positive effect on our mental health. I’ll be honest – this has been a game changer for me personally!
- Spend time together – it could be a games/movie night or even building a den out of a duvet cover draped across a table (once again teenagers may struggle with this!). Turn off personal screens such as phones and be present together. This does not have to be complicated or expensive. Putting some music on and just dancing around, being silly and having fun will benefit everyone. It doesn’t have to last long but will provide connection and hopefully lots of laughs.
We all find different ways to manage stress and worry in our lives, if January is a tough month for you, think about what might help you as a family and what your child enjoys. Build on the little things, try not to over complicate and don’t worry about new year’s resolutions – no-one ever sticks to them anyway!
We run a company called Purple Parenting, offering parent coaching, parent groups & workshops and bespoke staff training for Early Years to KS2. Are you struggling to understand your child’s behaviour and how to respond? We offer a free initial chat to see whether parent coaching would be for you. We also offer bespoke training for Early Years or schools settings, including understanding and supporting self regulation and resilience. Contact us through our website, Facebook/Instagram message or email on email@example.com