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Holiday Stress Print
Sunday, 23 December 2007
A good reminder for this holiday season...

For a child with attachment issues, PTSD, SID or other conditions related to early separation and trauma, the holidays can be particularly stressful. The thought of a stranger entering the house (aka Santa Claus) may provoke nightmares or hypervigilance. The sensory overload of crowds, Christmas music, and spicy potpourri may send a child into internal shutdown or external meltdown.

In a visit to our attachment therapist I wondered aloud why my child’s anxiety level seemed to be so high. After all, our holidays had been relatively quiet; only small groups of people, a very controlled number of gifts, no hype about Santa Claus—and certainly no mall trips to sit on his lap. She responded, “Did you have a Christmas tree?”

“Well, yes.”

“In your house?”

I laughed. “Of course.”

“Do you usually have a tree in your living room?”

I got the point.

As I’ve learned about the role that early separation plays out in my child’s life—even years after the initial trauma—it’s helpful for me to remember that things that might normally be exciting for other kids might be overwhelming for my child. When I can view behavior in light of early experiences, I am less apt to become frustrated and more likely to find a way to help him through anxious moments.

Comments
holiday stress
Written by on 2006-01-02 12:42:35
This is very interesting to me. Leading up to Christmas our son was fine. We decorated very little and avoided malls and parties. On Christmas day our son really struggled...he refused to come downstairs...the idea that Santa was in our house really freaked him out and from that moment on he was very anxious and became very controlling. The week following Christmas was just unbearable and everything we normally did to help him, only made him more resistant. Yesterday while he napped I took the Christmas tree down and the few decorations including our display of Christmas cards we put up. He's been calm and cooperative since. It didn't even occur to me that taking down the decorations could have solved our problem until I read this. Very interesting.

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