Large gatherings can be stressful for anyone. The added stimulation, hours of preparation, and heightened expectations are just a few simple reasons adults may feel stressed in a large gathering environment. But what about kids? What could they be stressed about during a large gathering? Here are a few potential causes of stressed and overwhelmed feelings in children during large gatherings:

Now that you’ve considered some of the things that can make a child stressed during a large gathering, how can you help them positively cope with their feelings? We sat down with our Certified Child Life Specialist, Brittney Nathan, to learn all the best tips.

How can families prepare their children for large gatherings? 
“Age-appropriate preparation is key!” According to Nathan, “If you’re wondering what information is important to share, focus on what the child will experience in a chronological and sensory manner. For example, how you will travel to the event, what will happen when you arrive, what the environment will look like, what the environment will sound like, etc. Most importantly, reassure your child that they can come to you at any time if they’re feeling overwhelmed. If you’re concerned about your child voicing their need for assistance in a group setting, empower them to use a special code word or phrase! Both caregivers and kids can use this to privately gauge the need for connection.”

What are some signs that your child is overwhelmed or stressed about a gathering?
Nathan encourages caregivers to, “Pay extra attention to your child’s emotional state when discussing this gathering. Is their mood changing or do they seem to withdraw from the conversation completely? Physical symptoms like headaches or an upset stomach are common signs of stress as well.” 

What are some coping strategies parents can use to help their child cope with the stresses of large gatherings? 
According to Nathan, there are several effective coping strategies, so you and your kids can feel empowered to choose what works best.

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