Yes, it’s that time of year again when we look forward to the peace of Christmas!! Maybe not. Ok then – the joyfulness of Christmas? Err the eating and drinking of Christmas? Just the fact that you’re not at work and at home for Christmas?
There are so many different emotions I’m sure for you at this time. If you’re a teacher or work in schools you are definitely on the countdown and probably exhausted with all the off timetable events. If you’re a parent or carer then I can wholeheartedly identify with the feelings of excitement mixed with dread and the endless meltdowns from your children.
So what is it about this time of year that brings out the fizziness in some children?
I’m sure this isn’t just a ‘vulnerable’ child phenomenon and you may be asking yourself what does this word fizzy even mean? Well it’s the reaction you see in children and young people when they are dysregulated, i.e. stressed or anxious and they can’t contain the energy inside of them. It may not come out in anger or aggression, but in an intangible walking on egg shells feeling. They may be bouncing up and down or spinning around. They may be giggling uncontrollably or just fidgeting more than usual. It can manifest in all manner of ways but the best explanation is just fizzy!!
The excitement of the build up to Christmas can be too much for many children (and adults too). Coupled with the triggers of their past around Christmas – ie. Being taken into care, arguments at home, being left alone or whatever may have happened. This coupled with the uncontrollable and uncontained excitement the results can be explosive.
We were in a school this week doing an observation on a child and it was Christmas party day. Lots happening from the moment we walked into the building – music playing, everyone in party clothes, snacks, puppet shows, cards passing around and the general merriment of this time of year. I understand why we do these things but I also know for some children it can just be too much.
Many of my adopter friends are on their knees at this time of year. Exhausted with trying to hold their children’s emotions together and just get through to New Year. I would say why do we put ourselves through it, but we seem to have little choice when everyone around us has bought into this madness. The shops, restaurants, activity clubs and schools all go along with this hype, it’s hard to keep our children away even if we tried.
Don’t get me wrong – I love Christmas. I do love the music and the change in people’s moods, generally but I also see the impact of a complete change in routine and to those things that have become anchors for our children. The expectations of what will happen each day, the people available when they need them, the uniformity of dress and behaviour all serves to help a child feel safe. Of course that doesn’t mean we don’t have fun but we have to appreciate that for some children they have to be contained within that fun.
So what can we take from this then? If you’re an educator of some sort please consider this next week and how it might impact on some children. One thing that’s often said to us is “but we don’t want them to miss out” and I get that. But they are not missing out if being part of that activity generates so much stress for them that they end up having a meltdown, hurting others and being sent home anyway. Maybe we need to be considering that not every child can appreciate the wonder of Christmas as they were born to do. Life has not treated them well and Christmas only serves as a reminder of that.
Whatever this last week is like I do hope that you have time to connect with those you love and that your Christmas and New Year will be peaceful, joyful, fun, meaningful and above all not fizzy.