Parenting Tips: Creating Calm Holidays – Avoiding Holiday Meltdowns

Even though the 23 days left until Christmas will go by really quickly for you, that will seem like FOREVER for your young children.  So in the hopes of helping everyone enjoy the holidays with out a meltdown (it could happen), here are some tips for you

Three weeks is a long enough time for children to pre- pare for the holiday season. Don’t give in to pressures to begin activities sooner.

You  can also try to insulate the children from all the television commercials, but shouldn’t expect children to be totally immune to them. Saying no to everything advertised on television and fighting over it may be worse than giving in on some things. Go along a little bit with what they would like, but help them develop the values you’d like them to have.

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To prevent meltdowns,

During the holiday season it’s better to do one thing calmly than 10 things frenetically. The pace is often what does in parents and children alike. Too many new and exciting experiences and too much of a change in the daily routine can throw everyone into a tizzy.

So, slow it down so children can participate in holiday activities in a fun, simple ways. Make preparations in small, easily managed steps that you can all do together. Children can help with things that are done in advance of Christmas, like food preparation or selecting gifts or making cards, but don’t  introduce all the activities at once. When it comes to baking, for example, make just one plain kind of cookie or stream- line the process by using ready-made cookie dough and let the children do the decorating. Remember that from the child’s point of view it doesn’t matter what the cookies look like, it’s the fun of making them together that counts. The same goes for holiday        dec-orations and making or picking out and wrapping presents.

Encourage the kids to  think about giving presents, not just receiving them, and understand that this is a time for sharing and expressing love. If possible, let children make or pick out the things they would like to give others. Encourage them to think about what the other person would like and don’t confuse monetary worth with importance. Young children enjoy making cards, pictures or simple handmade gifts and doing so helps them learn how to be givers as well as receivers.

Keep your usual routines

Another way to help make the holidays more pleasurable is by sticking to regular routines as much as possible.
Children need consistency and sameness in their daily lives as well as stimulation. When this balance gets out of whack, and it will during the holiday season, everyone can feel out of sorts.

Maintain bedtime rituals and, when you can, allow a little extra time to answer the questions young children will have about all the goings-on. Often, in the rush of too many activities, parents forget that children need calm, leisurely explanations of the customs and rituals of their particular holiday tradition.

Since it’s often difficult for young children to accept going to bed at the end of a big day, talking quietly, reading a story or singing a song related to the holidays can help calm every- one down.

Paying attention to routines goes for adults, too. Having a sense of control and not being exhausted is important. Then you’re ready to enjoy the family time together.

Very simple things satisfy young children. They are pleased and reassured by repetition. So keep it simple, keep it manageable for a holiday season that’s a happy one for little people and their parents.

Source: Sue West, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, NYS College of Human Ecology, Cornell University. Parent Pages was developed by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. 

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