Have a happy and harmonious Christmas with your teens!


For many of us, Christmas this year is going to be rather different, so our in-house Parenting and Mental Health Expert, Alicia Drummond brings you her top tips for a harmonious Christmas. Alicia is the Founder of Teen Tips and the Wellbeing Hub For Schools, which helps staff and parents meet the social and emotional needs of young people.


  • If your children are returning from boarding school or university remember that they will need time to settle and re-establish the pecking order. They will also be tired, so minimise drama by expecting very little of them for the first few days.

 

  • The continuing restriction on socialising is particularly tough on adolescents who are wired to spend time with their peers. Empathise and encourage them to explore what they can do rather than what they can’t do.  For example, why not have a virtual jogging buddy; a zoom bake-off or plan a movie night with Netflix party.

 

  • Being explicit about rules from the outset is helpful, and especially if you are trying to protect family members. You might say something like, “I know it is really tough not being able to meet up with your friends, and I am really sorry that you can’t, but we would never forgive ourselves if we inadvertently gave the virus to X”.

 

  • Spend a bit of time before the big day working out your family’s Christmas screen contract and if you are giving your kids computers, phones or consoles they will want to use them, so negotiate when and for how long before you hand over the controls.

 

  • Gift giving can be problematic if some family members have lots of money and others very little, and this might be especially true this year. Why not instigate a secret Santa scheme to limit the number of presents each person needs to buy, and take the pressure off those who might be feeling the pinch.

 

  • Stock up on board games that everyone can enjoy. Our top tips for games are Task Master, Ticket to Ride, Rummikub and Risk.

 

  • Lots of family upset occurs because the division of labour feels unfair. Why not split the household into teams, write jobs on pieces of paper and draw them out until all the jobs are divided up.

 

  • Alcohol is so harmful to the adolescent brain that it is important to discuss with other adults in the house how you are going to handle any requests from your teenager for a Christmas tipple.

 

  • If there is a family member you struggle to get on with try killing them with kindness – it might not make you like them, but at least you will like yourself.

 

  • Developing adolescent social skills is vital for the job markets of the future. Christmas can be a good time for discussion and debate.

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