The holidays are a time for fun, spending time with family and friends and being grateful. Unfortunately, in the majority of households, this means stress, adding more responsibility to our already piled schedules, and managing a lot of un-structured time for our children.
Here are some tips on breaking down the holidays for a calmer holiday experience:
1. Prepare your child– let them know the schedule of the day well before hand. Talk to them about who they will see, what the rules/expectations are, and what the environment will look like.
2. Provide your child with structure during unstructured times. You can bring a bag of their favorite toys or books to parties, or create a “play-schedule” for them to play independently when the focus is more on adult activities.
3. Role-play and model situations for your child before putting them in a new setting. Discuss manners and appropriate conversation topics. Review how to share favorite toys or tolerate people in their environment. Give them the language they need to problem-solve or ask for help if they are feeling overwhelmed in this new setting.
4. Give feedback and positive praise for your child when they make a good choice. Did they try a new food? Did they share? Were they polite to an adult or ask for help appropriately? Providing this feedback will help encourage your child to make more positive choices going forward.
5. Try not to over-schedule. The holidays provide lots of opportunities for catching up with friends and family. Know your family’s limits. If rushing from one party to another in one day or weekend is stressful for everyone, limit your RSVP’s to what you think is manageable. Everyone will understand if you decide to go alone or say you have another commitment. Throwing off your child’s routine or placing expectations on your child when they are tired is the perfect storm for a melt-down.
6. Enjoy the little moments. Your children are only going to be small once. Make sure you are creating memories and taking time to slow down. One day your life is going to be more quiet and peaceful, and you may miss the chaos.
I hope these tips help you enjoy a great holiday season with family and friends!
Let me know how you’re doing. Contact me for a family consultation.
Behaved Brain Wellness Center
Healthier Kids – Happier Parents