Happy Holidays! There is so much excitement in the air! Lights, music, presents, parties and good cheer is all around us. Most of you have heard me say this, but for those of you who haven’t, often times, along with a strength comes a weakness. So what is the “yin” to the holiday excitement’s “yang”? Stress, shopping frenzies, overspending, expectation, overwhelming amounts of social obligations, traffic, and a whole lot of excess! There is so much focus on this excess that we, and our families, can get lost in it. (An overwhelmed parent can lead to an under-attended child.) As we get lost in it, many times, so does our behavior. So how can we take care of ourselves and our families during this time?
During stressful times, including the holidays, parents need to pay more attention to and/or increase the structure in their children's lives in order to provide predictability which creates a sense of security for them. Here are a few ideas:
Communicate clear expectations for your family members. Also, ask what they expect from you.
Create a vacation/holiday calendar with your children for them to refer to. Try to maintain as much of their regular schedule as possible (ie: breakfast time, bedtime, etc.) Be kind to yourself too and expect to be flexible. This is meant to create peacefulness, not stress.
Each morning, and throughout the day, mention the schedule of the immediate activities for your family. For example, “Good morning! Let’s have some breakfast and watch the Christmas parade together. Then we will clean up, get dressed and go to Aunt Suzy’s house to celebrate with your cousins!”
Making sure they are well fed. This may sound silly, but when you are taking them to another place and there is a different time to eat (ie: food will be served at 2 and they are used to eating lunch at 11:30), with different foods, tastes, smells, etc. Make sure they are taken care of in order for them to have a good time with good behavior, which in turn will improve your ability to relax and have a nice time.
Make sure they get the necessary amounts of sleep for them to function happily.
Monitor their over-stimulation. There are presents and treats and excess everywhere they turn. Limit (not eliminate) additional unnecessary stimulants such as video games, tablets, even handing over your own phone to them to prevent over-stimulation which leads to crankiness and irritability.
Set limits (for yourself and your family) and the result really will be “Happy Holidays” for all to enjoy!
**You can use the information in this blog post preventatively or proactively in response to undesirable behavior you are seeing from your children. It is important to note that not everychild will experience stress or exhibit problem behavior.