Parenting Tips: Help for Struggling Teen Over the Holidays

For many families, the holidays mean making gingerbread cookies, building snowmen, relaxing by a warm fire, and spending time with family–but for some, it’s the opposite. For some, it means more stress, more arguments, more challenges. Most people don’t think about help for struggling teen boys and girls during the holidays, but it’s often desperately needed.
From large social gatherings to family altercations, the holidays come with certain expectations that can place more weight on an already strained family. Knowing some tips to guide your teen through this time of year can help make a difference, though.

Mental health issues worsen during holidays

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, the US is tossed into the holiday season whether you like it or not. This added amount of stress can easily affect our moods, especially those of us with mental health issues.
In a survey conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), it was found that 64 percent of people with a diagnosed mental illness reported the holidays agitate their symptoms. Professionals believe this is largely because of the high expectations (gifts, social events, money, etc.). This is why the holiday season may be one of the times help for struggling teen boys and girls is most needed.

Tips for navigating the holiday season

help for struggling teenKeep the social events to a minimum.
Yes, it is okay to say no to an invite. Holiday parties are a dime a dozen from November to January–your family doesn’t have to attend every one. Stretching your family out thin to fit each event into your schedule is just going to pack on stress, not spread the holiday spirit. Sit down together as a family and discuss together which holiday events are essential and which aren’t.
Don’t let winter ruin your health.
During the holidays, it’s easy to stay inside, keep warm, stuff your face, and basically hibernate. Unfortunately, that’s not good for your mental or physical health. Not only are holiday foods notoriously packed full of sugar and fat, but too much of them can lead to increased stress and lethargic behavior.
Focusing on getting good greens and fruits into your family’s diet can make a big difference. And there are fun physical activities to do in the winter–a prime example is ice skating, which can be a terribly fun family outing.
Sleep is still important.
Just because school’s out doesn’t mean your teen should be staying up until 3AM. Your child still needs a solid 8 hours of sleep a night. Without a good amount of sleep, depression, anxiety, and a host of other issues can worsen.

Need help for struggling teen? Trails is here for your family.

If your child is really showing problematic behavior, it’s important to seek out a professional–even during the holidays.
Finding help for struggling teen boys and girls can be a lengthy process. If traditional outpatient therapies aren’t offering improvements, it might be time to look into a wilderness therapy program like Trails Carolina.
Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program for teens, ages 10 to 17, struggling with issues such as depression, defiance, anxiety, ADHD and many others. We strive to create meaningful change within our students through the use of individual, group, family, equine and wilderness therapy. We can help your family recover.
For more information about help for struggling teen boys & girls at Trails, contact us today at 800-975-7303.

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Jeremy Whitworth

As Executive Director at Trails Carolina, a leading wilderness therapy program for youth and teens, I oversee operations and collaborate with our leadership team. Since 2022, I've also hosted the Common Ground Podcast for parents: With a background in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education, I've managed adventure-based therapeutic programs across the US and Canada. My experiences in competitive athletics and adventure sports have honed my leadership, risk assessment, and decision-making skills, which I apply to running a successful business like Trails Carolina.

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Trails saved my daughter’s life. Amanda is an amazing human and a brilliant therapist. I am so grateful to her, Science Steve, and the other wonderful people who could reach my daughter at a time when I could not.

Margot Lowman August 2022

Great life changing experience for our son. After becoming addicted to gaming during covid he was very depressed. At Trails he experienced the wilderness, Science Steve, learning survival skills and top notch therapy and support etc… I highly recommend! This gave our son and our family a renewed family bond full of love and excitement about his bright future.

Winnifred Wilson July 2022


Outstanding clinical work and superb staff! There’s a great culture at this company and it shows with how they engage with families/clients.

Kristin Brace June 2022


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