Advice from Childline on managing relationships and the stress of Christmas
Christmas can be lots of fun but there are some children who struggle with the festive season. Childline services manager Wendy Robinson offers some advice...
Christmas can be a really exciting time of year, when we all get together with family and friends, exchange gifts and celebrate.
But what happens if you don't get on with your family, if there are financial pressures at home or if you're feeling lonely and isolated?
When you don't enjoy Christmas, it can be hard to escape the holiday season.
Christmas can be an incredibly stressful time.
In a family already under pressure there might be more arguments than usual, you might be forced to spend time with people you don't like, and arguments can happen as a result of people drinking too much alcohol.
For children spending Christmas in foster care, it can be a particularly emotional time. They might miss their parents and be unsure about what will happen on the day – for example will there be presents, will there be visitors?
One 10 year old girl told Childline counsellors: "I am worried about my mum because she seems quite stressed. She keeps saying sorry for not being able to afford Christmas presents. I really don't mind but it is upsetting her. Mum is on her own now after years of domestic abuse from my dad. He was always so horrible.
"He doesn't live with us anymore so it is a little safer but he sometimes turns up and shouts and hits her. He doesn't even give my mum money for clothes or food or anything. Things are better now he has gone but I worry about my mum."
Whatever the reason, if you're worried about how your child or a child you know might be coping with the pressures of the season, there are some things you can do to help them:
* If there are strained relationships within the family, encourage them to take a break.
* Urge children not to compare their Christmas or to what is posted on social media. Every Christmas is different and there is no right or wrong way to celebrate.
* If they're struggling to talk about emotions that are affecting them, tell them about the message boards on the Childline website where they can discuss thoughts and feelings with peers or express their emotions using the Art box.
* If they are struggling to open up about their worries, let them know they can talk to a Childline counsellor free and in confidence by calling 0800 1111.
Our counsellors will be manning the phones and online message boards on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, just as they do every other day of the year. If your child or a child you know has any worries or concerns, they can contact them 24/7 on 0800 1111 or visit www.childline.org.uk for advice.
Parents with any concerns or worries can contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.