Alicia Drummond, our In-House Parenting & Mental Health Expert, shares her top tips for a harmonious family Christmas with your teenagers.
Create a chill out zone – Being explicit from the outset is helpful – “this is a small house and there are lots of us so if anyone needs time out we have made a chill out zone in one of the bedrooms.” Don’t put screens in this area, just make it comfortable with books, magazines, puzzles, word searches, sudoko and some playing cards. It needs to be cosy and nurturing not the most exciting place in the house!
Alcohol – It’s so harmful to the adolescent brain that it is important to discuss with other adults in the house how you are going to handle any requests from your teenager for a Christmas tipple.
Screens – Spend a bit of time before the big day working out your family’s Christmas screen contract & if you are giving your kids computers, phones or consoles they will want to use them so negotiate when & for how long before you hand over the controls.
Gift giving – This can be problematic if some family members have lots of money and others very little. To even the playing field why not suggest that everyone buys everyone else a book.The book can be new or second hand, the point is that the giver has considered what the receiver would like and everyone starts the year with a stash of books.
Games and Activities – Ask every guest to come with an activity or game that everyone can enjoy. Our top tips for teen games are Rummikub, Bananagrams, Monopoly (try the new Millennials Version) or a puzzle – the Where’s Wally ones are great.
Minimise Conflict – Managing expectations in advance is a great way of minimising conflict.Ask everyone to let you know one thing that would really make Christmas special for them and see if you can make it happen.If you can’t but can explain why it is not possible, they will at least know you have considered them.
Give them jobs! – Lots of family upset occurs because the division of labour feels unfair.Why not put your teens in charge of dividing guests into teams, writing jobs on pieces of paper and drawing them out until all the jobs are divided up.
Get them talking – If there is a family member you struggle to get on with try killing them with kindness – it might not make you like them but at least you will like yourself. Developing adolescent social skills is vital for the job markets of the future.Christmas can be a good time to encourage them to talk to adults of all ages.
Alicia is a therapist accredited with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy; she is also a pastoral care consultant working with over 100 schools in the UK and abroad and, perhaps most importantly, is a parent.Teen Tips Courses, Talks and Workshops are designed to give information, advice and practical tips and tools to help you to help teenagers fulfil their potential.Visit her website for more information here www.teentips.co.uk/