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Ruth Herman Wells

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Member Since: Sep, 2008

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Holiday Pain Relievers
by Ruth Herman Wells   
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2009

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The winter holidays can be tough times for some children. For some,
drunkenness, beatings, and screaming may be the sounds of the
season. Or, now that Mom and Dad have split, the reality can truly
hit home as children shuttle from place to place, or families are
divided. Old wounds sting anew, as youngsters remember loved ones who have died, and those absent they wish present. All around, the world seems to sing, alive in holiday colors, a festival of happiness
that may leave many children sad, frustrated, alone or unhappy.


     The winter holidays can be tough times for some children. For some, 
drunkenness, beatings, and screaming may be the sounds of the
season.  Or, now that Mom and Dad have split, the reality can truly
hit home as children shuttle from place to place, or families are
divided. Old wounds sting anew, as youngsters remember loved ones  who have died, and those absent they wish present. All around, the world seems to sing, alive in holiday colors, a festival of happiness
that may leave many children sad, frustrated, alone or unhappy.

     It can be very hard to effectively help children come to terms with
the hand that life has dealt them. Depression may chase some of these youngsters like a relentless locomotive gaining speed, moving ever faster. While you will probably not be able to relieve all the pain and
sadness, you can perhaps offer some relief and solace.The truth is
 that alcoholic moms don't drink less during the holidays.The truth is
 that during the holidays, absent dads remain absent. The truth is that serious family problems don't take a holiday-- even on the holidays.

     Sadly, holidays can take serious family problems and multiply and
amplify them as normal routines are discarded, and the family is alone
together. Worst of all, for some children, you may be the only sane,
sober, kind adult in their universe, and now you're gone on vacation. Here are some ways to "stretch" you beyond the conventional work week so you can help your troubled youngsters make it through the holidays.
    
       INCREASE YOUR REACH
       To extend your reach into the holiday period when you may not
        be in regular contact with your youngsters, find a way to maintain
        your connection. Make up postcards pre-addressed to you,
        and ask your youngsters to write to you over the break period.
        You can also prepare cards to mail to your distressed youngsters
        during that time period as well. You may also wish to arrange
        mentoring for especially vulnerable children. You can contact
        programs like Big Brother/Big Sister,  or local church, civic or
        community groups.

        IN THE SAFE ZONE
        Even if you are a counselor, social worker or psychologist, it
        can be tough to get kids to reveal abuse, neglect and other
        pain. However, children are more likely to tell, if they know
        it is safe to talk. Evaluate your office or classroom to see how
        safe it may seem to your vulnerable youngsters. Here are the
        conditions to have in place:
 
                Confidentiality: Children want to know that what is said
                in the room, stays in the room. If reporting requirements
                will impact this, tell the child first. They will feel
                betrayed if you tell them later.

                Respect: Children want to know that they won't be put
                down or belittled if they tell you a "horrible" problem.

                Uninterrupted Talk: Children want to know that they
                will have the time to say what they need to say,
                without frequent interruptions or distractions.

                Competence: Children want you to know what to do and
                say to help; they don't want to have to deal with your
                dismay, confusion, limitations or sadness.

                Boundaries: Children want to know what will happen,
                plus where and when. It is also important to have pre-
                arranged agreements about staying in the room
                instead of fleeing during times of upset.

                Be Honest: Children seldom want more lies, confusion
                or deception. Even a small child has radar for untruths.
                You can dole out the truth in manageable doses, but
                don't mislead.

                Make It Safe, Make It Okay: More than anything,
                children want you to make the situation better. Of
                course, often that won't be possible, but if you keep
                that goal in mind, it can guide you on what to do.
            
        A DELICATE BALANCE
        If some of your youngsters appear more stressed and troubled
        during the holidays, be sure that you adjust accordingly. Don't
        abandon your mission but you also don't want to accomplish it
        at all costs. Increase your expectations when the child appears
        more functional. If you can strike that balance, you can best
        offer your service to the troubled child without adding to the
        child's woes. Don't expect all your troubled children to quickly
        rebound in January. Depression doesn't follow a calendar.
       
        TEACH THE FOLLY OF JOLLY
        Even if you are in a school setting, it may be wise to educate
        your students to understand that many people struggle during
        holiday times. The more you can puncture the belief that
        "everyone is happy but me," the more these children may be able
        to manage their emotions.

        CALL TO ACTION
        Structuring the long hours of holiday free time can yield many
        benefits. Involve your youngsters in volunteer activities,
        especially those that involve helping people who are struggling.
        Helping others can sometimes build esteem, and give insight
        and perspective. Ensure that all your students become aware of
        recreational opportunities too. For youngsters from troubled
        families, time out of the home can also relieve some pressure.
       
        THE SEASON TO INSPIRE
        There are so many stories of triumph, endurance, courage and
        success that relate to this holiday season. What better time of
        year to inspire your children who face challenges? Two old
        favorites to consider depending on the age of your youngsters:
        Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," and the old classic "It's a
        Wonderful Life."
      
    LIKE THESE STRATEGIES?

      We have dozens more. Our newest books, "Forgotten Favorite
      Strategies" and  "Maximum-Strength Motivation-Makers" are
      designed to help you work with children and youth who face
      serious challenges. See these and hundreds more free ideas
      at our site  (http://www.youthchg.com/orderfm.html); or
      use the contact information shown at the bottom of this
      page.

Web Site: Maximum-Strength Motivation-Makers



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