When teaching at the elementary level we often saw behaviours change over the couple of weeks before Christmas. How? Children were anywhere from sassier and cheekier to quieter, less confrontational and sometimes even more cooperative, even clingy. Why? The obvious reason, the extra exciting stimulation (sounds, lights and food) and the anticipation of the holidays was a huge factor, however, what many of us educators realized was that the holidays brought a break of routine (most kids thrive on routine) with late nights and parties. Along with this came the home arguments, parents overindulging with substances (alcohol and drugs) and disappointment due to competitively measuring one’s circumstances against our perfection-orientated Christmas culture. Students would even share their worries about spending two weeks at home.
At the high school level, students’ social media engagement is even more intense. This coupled with the insecurities of teenage maturation, their incessant inner voice of comparison and judgement can be wildly triggered. Plus, remember that the prefrontal cortex lobe of reasoning does not fully develop until the mid-twenties, hence, teenagers are at biological risk of ‘short circuiting’ and making ineffective choices. The desire to grow up and party like adults becomes exceptionally alluring. Holiday time for teens can become a period of great risk-taking and depressing.