Circles are a great tool for dealing with holiday stress. In a "talking circle," one person speaks at a time, and everyone has a chance to speak and be heard.

At CSF Buxmont, we start holding circles to talk about the holidays shortly before Thanksgiving. Some go-around questions include:

  • What is your favorite holiday memory?
  • What are some of your holiday traditions?
  • Who do you celebrate with?
  • What are some of your concerns about holiday time?
  • What are you worried about for the holidays?
  • What would your ideal holiday celebration look like?

The kids talk about how commercials and society portray the holidays as happy and joyous. This makes them think there's something wrong with them if the holidays cause them stress. The circles help them learn that they're not alone in feeling stressed during holiday time.

The circle questions spark very interesting discussions. Some kids are dealing with financial worries in their families. Some are anxious about family members getting drunk and arguing or fighting. Some are worried about maintaining their own sobriety. Students also enjoy talking about what their ideal holiday would be like. It gives them a feeling of hope and a sense of control over their lives.


Pam Thompson is assistant director of Day Treatment for CSF Buxmont schools, IIRP's model restorative programs for at-risk youth. Thanks to Laura Mirsky, IIRP assistant director of Communications and Technology, for assistance with this post.

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