How Family Vacations Can Help Kids Cope with Stress And Become Their ‘Happiness Anchors’

We, adults, are full of stress in everyday life from job, bills to pay, expectations, attitudes, anxiety, fear, feelings, events, environment and society. Sometimes we reflect that childhood can seem like a carefree time. But, we don’t realize that kids also experience stress. Things like school and their social life can sometimes create pressures that can feel overwhelming for kids. As a parent, you can’t protect your kids from stress — but you can help them develop healthy ways to cope with stress and solve everyday problems. And as a parent, you want to make your kids happier and smarter.

Kids deal with stress in both healthy and unhealthy ways. And while they may not initiate a conversation about what’s bothering them, they do want their parents to reach out and help them cope with their troubles.

But it’s not always easy for parents to know what to do for a child who’s feeling stressed.

There are some ideas that parents can consider to help their kids, yet I will describe in details about family vacations which is considered the best happiness anchors for kids and help them cope with stress.

Create the best memories of family vacations

Traveling has endless benefits. It does not only refresh our minds, bodies, and souls, but it also introduces us to new experiences and memories that last a lifetime. I’m not just talking about holidays you had in Siem Reap or Sihanoukville with your college friends.

Remember that Sihanoukville trip you took with your mom when you were 9? Or that family vacation to Siem Reap Angkor Wat when you were in high school? You might not have realized it at the time, but those trips were actually improving your life. They were remarkably making you happier, and science can prove it. Because those family vacations weren’t just fun.

Science also explains that the experience of travel makes kids demonstrably happier, while also educating them and enriching their lives.

A research shows that an experience like a family vacation can actually function as a “happiness anchor,” a set memory that children can use to help them navigate back to positive emotions when they’re encountering stress and anxiety.

John McDonald, Director of the Family Holiday Association, explained in this research with The Huffington Post that the “happiness anchor” effect. He said that by “reflecting on our happiest memories of joyful time spent together as a family can be extremely powerful in bringing relief and respite when faced with the darker times that life can bring.”

“By using these memories as an anchor to take us back to more cheerful moments, we’re often able to approach problems with a fresh sense of perspective. But for many without such memories, reigniting a sense of optimism for getting through the tougher times can seem like an impossible task.”

Truly, traveling with kids can be definitely intimidating and a lot of work — trying to get young children and everything they need can be an insane juggling act — but it’s totally worth it. Because those memories PERSIST. Those memories last much longer than you’d ever imagine and they can help your kids remember happier times when they really need the reminder.

A happy family with daughter at Angkor Wat
A happy family with daughter at Angkor Wat

So instead of going out and buying your young ones the newest game console, tablets, and toys, consider how you can make your kids much happier with a family vacation instead.

What’s next? Here are more ways that simply traveling together can be the best gift you can ever give your family:

Family vacation is the best gift you can give your child

Travel and all experiences that come with it are irreplaceable. Traveling gives your child things that no toy will ever be able to offer. Researchers have found that both children and adults alike consider travel to be more fulfilling than buying things. Material objects will always come in second place to once-in-a-lifetime experiences, memories, and time with family.

Family vacation moves kids away from technology and into nature

Today is a digital world and it’s super easy for kids to get addicted to technology. So traveling is a way for them to step away from the TV screens, mobile, games, tablets and put down their gadgets.

Planning fun activities allows children to get outside, exercise, get fresh air and expose to natural places. It also teaches them to love nature, and gives parents a chance to experience nature with them as well as show them the importance of protecting our environment.

A couple in white with a daughter on Phnom Krom mountain
A couple in white with a daughter on Phnom Krom mountain

Research has revealed that being in nature (even for as little as 20 minutes!) improves attention and concentration levels and lowers blood pressure and stress levels.

Family vacation is extremely educational

Taking a child to any kind of new environment opens the door to learning and knowledge, especially traveling! It introduces them to new places, cultures, and people. Neurological research shows that people exposed to “enriched environments” — places are that new with plenty of opportunities for social and physical interaction (i.e. like a vacation spot) — have higher IQs. They also have lower blood pressure, less stress hormones, and less cholesterol. So travel can make your kids happier, healthier, and smarter too!

Family vacation teaches kids invaluable life skills

Traveling means moving away from the usual routines of everyday life, which requires children to develop skills they wouldn’t normally have if they didn’t experience different situations.

Getting kids out of their structures also pushes them to be more adaptable. As a result, children build confidence and courage during family vacations by being able to try new things.

They also learn that not everything in life will always work out the way you planned it. For examples, flights can be delayed; cars can break down; the weather can change.

Family vacation makes kids more socialized

With your young kids, your travel seems very interactive with other people. People will go out of their way to talk to you. Particularly, they will comment how cute your children are. Conversation begins from friendly travelers and your children. This makes your kids much brave to begin to talk more than they’d stay at home.

Family Vacation Strengthens Bonds

Traveling together allows you to cut out special time with just your family, away from job, school, and regular life. It’s very important and invaluable to spend time as a family without any added distractions of everyday life.

According to a 2010 research study from the Netherlands, experiencing new places together definitely increases a family’s happiness, but even just planning a family vacation together can result in weeks of boosted happiness overall. (And we know those memories endure.)

Memories from family vacations can act as “happiness anchors”

When traveling with your family, you get to spend the whole day (and night) with your children. You do sightseeing together, you go hiking, you have picnics together, you often even sleep in the same room with them… They love it!  You do too, sometimes… They will never forget the experience. And neither will you!

You’re making memories that can forever be imprinted in your kids’ mind. They anchor them in a remarkable time and place in their lives. And it’s so important to make these memories and cherish this time as a family while kids are young and before they go off on their own — and it doesn’t hurt to know that one day they can pass these amazing memories down to their own families!

A couple in white daughter on family vacation
A couple in white daughter on family vacation

Another best way to enhance your family’s positive feelings towards your vacation for a long period of time is take more photos. Science found that people who took pictures of their pleasant experiences reported were happier. Taking pictures seem to help your family engage with experiences more deeply, in a way similar to mindfulness. And you get the chance to live your life with those enjoyable moments long afterward when looking at the pictures over and over again.

Conclusion

Stress happens to both adults and kids, but adults can probably know how to cope with it. Kids somehow need their parents to help solve their stresses.

Parents can’t solve every problem as kids go through life. But by teaching healthy coping strategies, you’ll prepare your kids to manage the stresses that come in the future. That’s why family vacation is one of the best ideas you can give your kids to deal with their stresses.

Do you realize your kids have stresses? How do you help them to cope with their stresses? Please comment below your ideas.

References

How Family Vacations Become ‘Happiness Anchors’ For Kids And Help Them Cope With Stress.

Helping kids cope with stress

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