CHILDLINE ADVICE: Don’t judge your Christmas by other’s social media posts

We’re well into the festive season now and, while Christmas can be a magical time of year, it often comes with increased stress which could cause anxiety within families.

Childline hears from lots of children who struggle to enjoy Christmas. Some feel lonely, some have arguments with family, while others miss those they’re unable to share it with. Some don’t celebrate Christmas and feel left out, while others are experiencing difficulties at home that make it a stressful time.

For children who are struggling during this time, we have a lot of advice on the Childline website. They can also speak to one of our counsellors. Parents can find advice on the NSPCC website, but here are a few thoughts to keep in mind.

Firstly, if there have been arguments in the home or if being surrounded by family members feels a bit much, it’s fine to take a break, listen to some music or chat to friends – this will help them let off steam and lift your mood.

Also – and this is as valid for adults as children – try not to compare your Christmas to someone else’s. Certainly, don’t judge your celebrations by social media posts - people only share what they want others to see, so don’t worry if your Christmas doesn’t look the same.

When every TV ad is about Christmas and the shops are full of decorations and gifts, it’s easy to forget that not everyone celebrates Christmas. Children might feel left out if they’re not celebrating, and it’s important that mum, dad or carers ask how they’re feeling if that’s the case.

There are also lots of great tools to help young people on the Childline website, including the Calm Zone, which has activities and games to reduce anxiety. Young people can create their own Mood Journal to let out their feelings, or speak to other children on moderated message boards.

Remember it’s important children don’t keep their feelings hidden, and can speak to someone they trust – if that’s not a parent, carer or relative, our Childline counsellors will be here to help throughout Christmas and new year.