How to Prepare Your Kid for a COVID-19 Holiday

January 20, 2021
Written by
Dr. Carrie Jackson
Key Points
  • Like everything else in 2020, holidays are different this year due to COVID-19. Many families are changing their regular traditions and social distancing in order to remain safe.
  • Parents are worried how kids will react to changing holiday routines this year but there are some clear strategies to managing change during the holidays.

With holidays approaching, families are struggling to decide how to safely navigate the holidays. Many families are deciding to not see extended family during this time, and are instead opting for virtual get-togethers or only celebrating with their immediate household. Because of this, parents are of course worried about how their children will handle a change in holiday routines from previous years.

Here are some strategies you can use as a parent navigating the holidays during this time.

Decide on your plan

Deciding on a clear plan for the holidays is essential to being able to talk to your kids about what to expect. For the holidays, kids will do best when the decision is made early.

Stick to your boundaries

Parents may feel guilty if they and their children do not see extended family during the holiday season. You know your family best and are allowed to make decisions not to see family during this time. When talking to family, it’s helpful to validate this is a difficult time (“I know it’s hard to not see the kids this year”).

Manage your emotions

Parents may also feel challenging emotions during these times and increased anxiety and stress about not seeing your parents and siblings. If you maintain a calm demeanor while still acknowledging your emotions, your kids will do the same.

Allow difficult emotions

Kids (and parents) are likely going to be disappointed and upset about holiday plans this year. It’s important to not punish kids for experiencing these difficult emotions. Instead, normalize and validate these emotions (“It’s frustrating the holidays are different this year”).

Increase quality time

Add in a little extra quality time with your immediate household to buffer against the disappointments of not seeing other family members. 

Create new holiday traditions

Find a new recipe, write extended family members cards, watch holiday movies. Ask kids for their input on what they would like to do for the holidays this year. Having choices and autonomy are helpful for kids.

Look at the big picture

In the moment, not celebrating a holiday as expected can feel like the worst thing in the world. During these times, think about the importance of celebrating safely and use it as a way to talk to your children about the pandemic.

This year has truly been like no other year before. While it may be different, we hope that your family is able to find ways to celebrate and enjoy the holiday season safely.

Read more by Dr.Carrie here.