Strategies to Help Children be Less Stressed During the Holidays
The holiday season can be stressful for all of us, parents and children. We have many extra activities like Christmas and New Year’s parties, Christmas shopping and gifts to purchase, we have Christmas programs the children will perform in, extra food and sugar can be too much.
It’s easy to see how young children can easily be overwhelmed during the holiday season. Even my 6-year-old, who should be able to cope better, had a total melt shopping this weekend. She was fine, we were having a nice time, and then suddenly something just snapped. She was fussing and making demands. Christmas shopping is stressful, but this scene was embarrassing.
5 Strategies to Enjoy Stress Free Holidays
Keep your normal schedule as much as possible
As you plan your holiday activities, try to maintain your normal schedule. Children need their normal schedule; it gives them a sense of security and balance. When the schedule changes too frequently, they become disoriented in time and the younger ones (especially under 6 years old) will become fussy, irritable and downright unmanageable.
Strategy #1 -As you plan your holiday schedule consider your children’s normal routines and when possible incorporate their schedule into your plans. Example, if nap time is always at 12:30 pm, this is not a good time to start Christmas shopping.
Set expectations for your 2-6 year olds
Help your 2-6 year old know what to expect and what you have planned. If they know you have to go to the shopping and then you will go to the park, they will be more willing to help you complete your shopping with less distraction so they can go to the park and play.
If you are going to a party with lights and music, you may want to prepare you child by explaining the party will have Christmas lights and music, and since people will be talking the noise may be louder than usual. My oldest child seemed to have a sensitivity to noise in restaurants and parties. When he was young, as soon as we stepped into a restaurant or party he would start crying. He would not stop crying until we left (eventually we just had to get babysitters until he was older).
Strategy #2 – It’s easy for young children to become overwhelmed in places they are not familiar with or if the noise is louder than usual. Prepare your child before you leave home with the plan for the day or sharing what to expect at the party.
If your child becomes overwhelmed, take them to a quiet place
The best way to calm an overstimulated child is to take them to a quiet place. If you are at a party, go to quiet room or go outside. If you are shopping and the crowds, lights and displays become too much, try going outside or even to your car (a familiar place) to allow your child to calm down.
Once your child becomes overwhelmed (and sometimes it happens unexpectedly), give your child as much time as they need to calm down.
Strategy #3 – If your child becomes overwhelmed or has a meltdown allow your child a quiet and calming down time.
Avoid too many sugary foods and limit food intake
During the holiday season, it’s so easy for all of us to over eat and eat too many sugary foods. Sugary foods make some children more active which will cause them and you stress at parties and while shopping in large crowds.
Help your child make healthy choices when eating by including some protein and vegetables. Be sure to drink lots of water, not soda and other sugary drinks.
Strategy #4 – Eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water. Avoid sugary foods or limit food intake.
Stay calm, Mom
You will be tempted to give in to the overwhelm yourself. Remember, stay calm. The more calm and steady your voice when you speak to your child, the calmer they will be too. If you lose your cool and yell or speak crossly, your child will become more stressed too.
If you need a moment, take a deep breath and count to 10. When you are able to stay calm, you children will be calmer too. Give them a good example to follow.
Strategy #5 – Stay calm. Give yourself a little grace and take a moment to calm yourself before you start helping your child.
The holidays can be stressful. We can reduce the stress and help keep our children calm with these 5 strategies: keep your normal routine when possible, prepare older children (2-6 years old), if your child becomes overwhelmed, take them to a quiet place, avoid too many sugary foods and stay calm, mom.
Let’s enjoy our holidays and have less stress.
What strategy do you use to keep your children calm and less stressed during the holidays?