What are your favorite childhood memories of the holidays? The meals? Tag football? Finding hidden gifts in the closet, carefully unwrapping them to peek inside, and then putting them back before you were discovered? Snowball fights with Uncle Howard?... Hopefully, you have some great holiday memories. All too often, however, holiday stress hijacks our lives. Parties, expenses, out of town guests, travel, preparing food, and extra activities add demands on our time and attention that stress even the most zen-like and organized parents. Kids react differently to stress than adults. They tend to show it through their behavior. It is their way of alerting you to something or letting you know that too much is happening. Their tears, tantrums, or withdrawing from unpleasant situations are actually their coping mechanisms. Some children become ill with stomachaches while others may appear nervous, show anger, and demand attention. It’s how kids deal with it. What I have learned from my counseling practice is that emotional and behavioral health – in kids and adults – comes from developing self-confidence, strong coping skills, the ability to maintain caring relationships, the ability to make positive choices, and a large dose of optimism. My clients discuss their concerns, worries, and hopes for their kids. I’ve learned so much from their experiences as well as from research and the type of therapy I practice. Here are a few things that may help create holidays with pleasant memories and less stress.