The holiday season is filled with expectations of joy, excitement, and happiness. But while it’s a very happy time for many, it can be a difficult time for some, exacerbating feelings of anxiety and depression. Many students, particularly those in poverty and those who have experienced loss or trauma, struggle emotionally during the holiday season. This shows up in their behavior at school, either through outbursts, aggressive behavior, being withdrawn, sad, or angry. In this post, we will give teachers some tips on how to help students emotionally through the holiday season.
Why Students Need Help
Children and adolescents with emotional disturbances feel the pressures of the holiday season in a profound way. They may find it hard to manage feelings that are opposite to what most people ought to think and feel during this time. They may have a pessimistic view about themselves and the world around them.
Students may exhibit expressions of their emotional struggles such as heightened levels of anger, aggression, and rigidity. There are also subtle signs such as becoming disconnected or withdrawn and becoming tearful and sad. The initial reaction of teachers may be to ignore such behaviors, assuming they will self-extinguish. Teachers should realize that they play a very important role in the mental and emotional health of students, and that they can do a lot to soothe feelings of distress and pain their students may be feeling.
How Teachers Can Help Students Emotionally During the Holiday Season
- Share your time. If you feel that a student feels lonely or isolated, offer support and companionship. You can also include the whole class into the equation, making this a “team effort”.
- If someone close to them recently passed away, it is normal for students to feel sadness and grief. Tell that it’s okay to cry and express their feelings. Help them realize that feelings of sadness gradually go away as time goes by.
- If you know of a student from a broken or disadvantaged home, maybe you can make arrangements so that he/she can feel happy during this special time of the year.
- If you know of students suffering from low self-esteem, spend time building them up so they’re not so vulnerable during the holiday season.
- Model coping strategies such as breathing exercises and counting to 10 when feeling stressed. Determine how students can cope best and teach them creative outlets to divert negative feelings. These can include meditation, reading, watching an educational TV show, singing, physical exercise, a new hobby, or any other activity that they can enjoy.
- You can also use positive rewards and small gifts to lift their spirits up. These don’t have to be grand or expensive, just simple things to make students feel that someone cares for them.
- Share stories of people you know who have overcome hardships in life. It could be the life story of a famous personality, a historical figure, or just a person that you know personally. Share how those people experienced trials but went on to lead successful, happy lives.
The holiday season is a wonderful time for most people. But for kids who are hurting, this time can be a stark reminder of what they don’t have and what is missing in their life. It is important, therefore, for teachers to know how to help students emotionally through the holiday season. Make them feel that there’s someone who cares for them. Even small acts as kindness can go a long way to make this world a better place, especially during this time of the year.
INcompassing Education provides professional development for teachers. Upgrade your knowledge and skills while earning credits for your continuing education. You can also check out these education books and mental health training resources. We also offer webinars for parents. Check out our latest webinars: 1) Supporting Grieving Children/Youth, 2) Supporting Youth Who Self-Injure, and 3) Supporting Children Diagnosed with ADHD. To learn more, see us on Facebook, INcompassing Education LLC, or send us a message through our contact page.