Christmas Survival Guide: Young People's perspectives.

A lot of focus is given to adults and the stresses and strains of Christmas, but how do our young people find the festive season?

A lot of focus is given to Adults at Christmas because of the stress and strains of the year, the pressures of having to buy presents, provide large meals in feast proportions and be social for longer periods of time with family you rarely see. 

A huge amount of focus is placed on the fact that children love Christmas and that it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

It can however bring its own challenges for the young people in your lives as well.  Separated from their friends, driven to spend more time than usual with their siblings and extended family, being placed in situations they would normally avoid, they cant even really get out and play because the weather is usually rotten.  Plus for them, as it is for us, it's a time of reflections and missing people who are no longer in our lives.

We thought it would be really cool to ask a few young people to let us know what Christmas means to them, that might resonate with other young people and also provide an insight for parents as to the things your young people might be feeling. 

That was certainly the case for Verity as she asked her 3 daughters to write a short bit about Christmas, the good and bad bits, the things that they wanted to share and any hints or tips for coping (any parents reading this can imagine that was quite a nerve-racking ask!)

Here are their perspectives and what they chose to share:

Alexa aged 9:

Last year my Nanny (grandma) died of cancer 4 months before Christmas.  When Christmas started I was still extremely sad about her death.  Nanny was one of the biggest parts of my life so losing her was really, really hard.

It came Christmas Eve and I was struggling, I got upset and started to cry about it.  I sat on the sofa and talked to my Mummy and Daddy about how I felt.  Meanwhile, my sisters were dancing by the Christmas Tree.  When I finished talking I felt much better so I joined in with them.

My hints and tips:

Talk to Someone
Try to smile if you feel sad (it makes you feel better)
Let people help you (they will listen)
Do fun things / think happy thoughts

Eva aged 11:

In the Christmas Holidays I try to keep positive by making the most of the time with my family because I know that the loved ones I have lost would want me to.

I like Christmas as it’s nice to put my phone down and do different things.  I like how everyone is happy because it's Christmas and that's always fun.  I like getting presents and I love eating Christmas food, the food that tastes like Christmas.

It's not always easy though so here are things that annoy me and what I do to get through.

My sisters can be really annoying, so I tell them to go away, they never do but it makes me feel better.
Everywhere is really busy at Christmas and I don’t like crowds of people, so I go in the middle of my family so I feel protected.
My dance school closes for the Holidays but instead I dance at home and teach myself new stuff - when I hear a song that I like I think of moves to put to it.

Claudia aged 15 (nearly):

Being a teenager during Christmas can sometimes be a bit strange in comparison to when you are a child or an adult / parent.  From my understanding when you’re a younger child Christmas is the best time of year and you get to see everyone in the family and you get presents, then as you get older you realise the family dynamics and how they change and you come to understand problems.  

My main piece of advice to other teens across the Christmas period is to refrain from prejudicing against various family members during this time.  You should try and keep things civil between yourself and them despite your personal opinions of them and the information you know about them.  Christmas is meant to be peaceful and whilst it can be difficult, refrain from potential arguments with your extended family.

Another thing that can be a potential dampener on the mood is the fact that you see your friends less, an easy solution to this is just to make distinct plans with them when they are free.  

Despite this Christmas doesnt stop being fun and an amazing time of the year.

We also recognise that there are young people out there who may really be struggling with loneliness, self esteem issues, they might not come from a loving family in which case Christmas can present allsorts of very different challenges for them.  If you find yourself in that circumstance please seek help, you do not have to struggle alone, we have many organisations listed on After the Storm in Youth Support that can support young people such as Young Minds The Samaritans or Child Line.