A Very Different Christmas: Preparing for 2020 Covid Holiday Season

As we slowly approach the end of the year and the season of festivities looms closer, many of us will be speculating over what holiday season 2020 will look like.

The mini-break beach holidays are out, work Christmas do’s are uncertain and will the kids even get to see Santa this year? The truth is we do not know, but as we inch closer to the end of the year, it seems increasingly unlikely.

It appears most of us will not be able to make our annual trip back home to see our family and friends for this Christmas season. For those of us who were expecting grandparents, again it is unlikely anyone will be allowed to visit us here in Singapore as the rest of the world struggles to contain the virus. This will undoubtedly be upsetting for many and may be particularly upsetting for younger children and adolescents who depend on these family holidays to stay bonded and connected to loved ones back home.

As life starts to slowly return to some sort of semblance or normality, we could be forgiven for forgetting the global impact of Covid. For young children in particular, they will have acclimatized very quickly to this new way of living and may be too young to understand or be aware of what is happening elsewhere. It can therefore be difficult to explain to them that this year’s Christmas holiday with loved ones or planned visits may be cancelled this year.

How can you support your kids to cope with the upcoming holiday season:

Be honest:

It is important to manage their expectations and be honest. Discuss how this year’s Christmas might be very different to other years and what they can expect. Even very young children can understand that being healthy and staying safe is essential.

Acknowledge their disappointment:

2020 has been an unprecedented year for us all. Help your child acknowledge that your family will celebrate Christmas a little different this year whilst offering reassurance and instilling hope that next year will be better.

Focus on the positives:

We will all need to rethink how we celebrate the holidays this year and it can be tempting to focus on what we cannot do. Instead help kids find new ways to celebrate with loved ones. Use Zoom to organise a Christmas carol concert, a family Christmas Quiz or open up presents together with Grandma and Grandpa abroad.

Physical distancing not social distancing:

Even though the term social distancing is being used, we are in fact being asked to physically distance. It is more important than ever to stay well connected with friends and family during this time. Encourage your kids to regularly call family and friends as this will help them maintain those vital social connections.

Be positive role models:

Children take their cues from adults and by modelling appropriate coping skills, parents and care givers can help children with their coping behavior.

It is completely normal and to be expected for children to feel upset about missing out on holidays/family reunions. If however your child is showing signs of sustained low mood, depression, anxiety or help please seek medical advice.

Dr Gina Dahel is a paediatric trained doctor based at IMC Children’s. Call 6887 4440 to make an appointment.





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