Help from Dr G: How to reduce stress during the holiday season

KDKA did a survey of almost 1,000 families asking about how the changes to school are affecting them this year, and 75% said they’re feeling stress.  With kids socially distancing, including doing school at home, many are missing the usual social interaction with kids at school, as well as traditional activities like soccer, school plays, and playdates.

Parenting expert Dr. G, or Dr. Debi Gilboa, a Squirrel Hill physician and mom of four, says parents may not need to worry as much as they are.

“Kids tell us that they are spending plenty of time with their friends.  They don’t like the restrictions on the activities they thought they would get to do, although they tell us they understand.”  But Dr. G says kids do say they miss the time-sensitive milestones they can’t make up and that parents should talk to our kids about the challenges in the pandemic.

“Ask our kids, not in a leading way and not in a judgemental way, ‘What’s hard for you about this?'”

Three-fourths of the parents and caregivers in our survey said they were stressed, which mirrors a national study that found 7 in 10 adults said this year has been the most stressful of their adult lives.  Dr. G says there’s help in the numbers.

“You’re not alone. Because you’re not alone, I really hope that you’ll consider talking to some people you trust just to hear what they’re experiencing too and then maybe asking in a Facebook group that you’re in, or a text chain that you’re in or in a phone call, ‘What do you do that has helped?'” Dr. G suggests.

And the holidays can add more stress.  Dr. G says this is the year to let go of some traditions, not hold yourself to perfection and to delegate. 

Kids are learning resilience by watching how their parents handle this and then by adapting to all the changes themselves.  “They get to build the strategies and learn how to think outside the box and be creative with us to guide them, instead of going through it as adults for the first time,” she adds.

As for when to seek help from a therapist, Dr. G says everyone could benefit from therapy, so if you or your child is stuck and can’t figure out how to handle a communication issue or another challenge, it’s always a good idea to go to an expert.

You can get more help in a 4-part webcast and podcast Dr. Gilboa is doing about the emotions many of us are experiencing right now.  Here’s the link for that: and for more resources for kids and families, go to: .