Holiday Celebration Safety & Mental Health for Children and Families

The winter season is quickly approaching.This time of year is filled with many diverse celebrations for children and families.  Because of COVID-19, many families will need to make adjustments to keep everyone safe.

Image of a family of four sharing a meal in front of the Christmas tree

In addition to our physical health, remember to take time for self-care and mental health as we (and our children) may not have the opportunity to be with loved ones during the holidays. The Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention has put together some helpful resources below to support families and children. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has some great suggestions to keep your family safe which can be found here. Here are some of their tips: 

  • Limit any in-person celebration to people who live in your household.
  • Think of creative ways to share the experience remotely. Consider preparing shared recipes at the same time over video chat.
  • Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.
  • Families who may be experiencing financial hardship and food shortage should reach out to local agencies or their pediatricians office. They may be able to connect families with resources to help with the holiday needs. 

The AAP also offers the following tips on recognizing signs of stress in infants, toddlers, and teens. Be sure to look for the following: 

  • Fussiness, irritability, startling and crying more easily, and more difficult to console. 
  • Conflict and aggression or themes like illness or death during play. ​ 
  • Changes in mood ​that are not usual for your child, such as ongoing irritability, feelings of hopelessness or rage, and frequent conflicts with friends and family. 

Special recognition to the mental/emotional well-being of children and families is the focus of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS). The following tips can be found here and can help with the necessary adjustments to embrace this holiday season: 

  • We can start by accepting that this is a year like no other. 
  • The holidays don’t have to be perfect – are they ever? Not everything has to be the same as it was in past years. 
  • Think back to other harsh challenges we’ve confronted in our lifetime and how we managed to get through those. 

Although these times may be hard, and all of our lives have been touched by COVID-19 in one way or another, know that each of us can do our part to protect ourselves and to keep others safe as we look forward to better days ahead. Just like when you’re instructed on an airplane to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help someone else, it’s important that we care for our own safety and wellbeing so that we can better care for those we love. 

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