Teens Finding More Joy, Less Stress This Holiday Season

Holiday Season
Posted at 7:15 AM, Dec 24, 2015
and last updated 2016-07-04 11:39:48-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- Parents know that teens, just like the rest of us, can get moody sometimes. So how can families stay one step ahead as they start Christmas break?

Family therapist Jane Marks says during this time of togetherness, it can be a good opportunity to wade through tweens and teens as their moods go up and down.

Here’s her advice to bring fun back to the holidays and tips to make it as stress free as possible:

1. A great way to start the holiday season is to present a plan and decide what is important.  Sit down with the whole family and discuss the holiday schedule letting everyone give their input on what events are coming up and which ones could conceivably create stress and which ones are more enjoyable.  Parents often fail to keep teens in the loop and so they get real frustrated because all of the sudden it's Wednesday night and they find out they have to go over to the Smith's house.  Making a plan helps to keep everyone in the loop so this can avoid a lot of stress.  This also allows time for them to hang out with their friends and helps to reduce any potential conflict.

2. Address holiday eating.  For some teens and tweens they can be pretty picky about what they want for the holidays so everybody has to at least have the opportunity to offer their input as to what is important for their holiday meals.  Have everyone participate in the planning, cooking and holiday prep.

3. Ask about expectations in advance. Sometimes during the holidays if feels like it comes with strings attached. Head off disappointment in advance regarding gift ideas.  If you know your teen or tween has their heart set on a gift that you know there's no way you can afford, then let's debunk this gift delusion early and see if we can't come up with an alternative that will make him or her happy.  If it is a big ticket item or unusual gift, try to get a handle on how it can happen or not happen.

4. Identify opportunities for down time.  Teens can get anxious and upset that they are missing out on events with their friends.  Let's talk about family down time when maybe you can get a scrabble tournament going or maybe even a video game tournament and more importantly, exercise should be part of a daily routine.

5. Come up with creative ways to spend quality time together and establish new traditions. Add a little twist.  Creative ways could include crafting, lip sync contest, ice skating, visiting local galleries, enjoy a bon fire, take a hot yoga class together.

6. Make sure you get your teens involved in thinking about others.  If your child doesn't want to attend the local Christmas Pops concert, at least make sure they come up with an option or experience where they are making a meaningful difference for someone outside of themselves.

7. Expect some degree of moodiness; do not allow it to ruin your experience.  Remember this is also a time to pick your battles and let a lot of things go.  Sometimes it's important to keep your expectations at a minimum.  Holidays are a mix of joy and sadness.  It's a time to celebrate but it's also a time to remember people that we love and that we lost.

8. Also listen up teens!  One of the greatest gifts that teens can give to their families is one hour of focused time a week for the rest of the year.  There is no greater gift where you actually sit down and talk with your family.  So it's not just about parents providing a wonderful holiday for the teens but it's also about teen giving back in an enormously meaningful way.

9. Finally, remember to practice gratitude.  We are so blessed to have families.  There are so many people at this time of year that are struggling with losses and so to all of our viewers out there we want to wish them the best of all holiday seasons.