It’s the Most Wonderful...ly Stressful... Time of the Year!
There are few things I love more than watching my kids get excited about Christmas. They love the cold weather (relatively cold – I live in Texas). They love the time off and sleeping in and bright lights and family getting together and special services at church and yes, they love presents! My kids are very lucky. They have a mom and dad at home who are employed and committed to their family. They have sense of security that a lot of kids don’t have this holiday season.
What about other kids?
Think about this for a minute, the average size of a classroom is around 25 kids...
That means that if the statistics hold 12 of your students are from homes broken by divorce and 8 of those 12 are from homes that have had multiple splits.*
According to the 2010 census nearly a third of all kids live in a one parent home (15 million kids)**. This means that 8 kids in your class are likely to spend the holidays without either their mom or their dad there (most likely their dad is missing).
2 of your kids are living in a home where either mom or dad are abusing drugs.
*** 6 of your kids are living in poverty and are not likely to see many gifts or special treats this holiday season.****
The holidays are a wonderful time for many but they can also be a time of tremendous stress for adults and kids alike. The problem with us adults is that we tend to get so caught up in our stresses of buying gifts and planning parties and making travel arrangements and putting up decorations that we don’t realize that this season of joy can also be a time of pain for those who are most vulnerable.
This holiday season take a few minutes and really look at your students and try to see who is hurting. Look for the students whose self esteem seems even lower than normal. Look for the kids who are having sudden mood swings. Take time to notice sudden drops in grades and increases in complaints about not feeling well. Really take a moment to think about the student who is withdrawing even more than normal. That kid you just noticed may be really hurting this holiday season. That child may be preparing to spend their first holiday without dad or they may be realizing that while their friends will be having fun they will be going home to very little.
Now that you have noticed these kids, what can you do about it? Obviously you can’t change their home or financial situation but you can do some things in the classroom to give them a lift and a mental break from the strain of the season. Here are some quick tips:
Take the time to watch our timeless 16 minute webinar aimed at helping you and your classroom get through the season titled, "Sometimes the Holidays Hurt" (YouTube)
I love the holidays. I wish everyone could have a Christmas day like my family. So I need to be very grateful for what I have but I am also duty bound to make sure I can help some child have a better holiday than he would have if I had not gotten involved. Each year I take my children to a shelter to hand out gifts. Each year we deliver gifts to the children of inmates through a program called Angel Tree. Each year we give a gift under the tree to a family that might not have one. You know the best thing about every one of these things? When my kids talk about their best holiday memories these are the things they talk about. They don’t remember what they got last year but they remember handing a gift to a child and seeing his eyes light up. They remember walking away from a home that was so happy to have a holiday meal given to them. They remembered the greatest gift of all….giving.
This holiday season remember that when someone is hurting, a little kindness can go a long way to making it the most wonderful time of the year.
50% of all the children born to married parents today, will experience the divorce of their parents before they are 18 years old. (Fagan, Fitzgerald, Rector, -The Effects of Divorce On America-)