I hope everyone is having a good holiday season so far. This is typically a time of year where there are a lot of things going on for children and their families – from family get-togethers, to holiday parties, to shopping trips.
With all these changes and excitement that the holidays bring, they can unfortunately cause increased anxiety and meltdowns for children which can cause increased stress for the child’s family.
Here are five quick tips that you can implement right away to help this holiday season be fun, enjoyable, and stress-free.
1. Stick to routines
This is typically hard to do this time of year with all the events and festivities that are going on. However, we want to try as much as possible to be consistent with our routines. This includes things like going to bed at consistent times, waking up at consistent times, eating a consistent diet, and following our typical routines for each day.
2. Keep a balanced diet
In addition to sticking to our established routines, we want to try and make sure our child is keeping a balanced diet. This time of year may bring special foods that may have high sugar content (I’m looking at you sugar cookies.) While it is ok to let our child have some holiday foods (as long as their diet allows) we want to make sure that we keep it in moderation, and that our child is eating healthy foods and a balanced diet (not just cookies and junk food.)
3. Let your child know what the expectations are
We can prevent meltdowns and tantrums by simply letting our children know ahead of time what the expectations are. For example, if we are going to a holiday party, we can let our child know what behavior we want them to have “We are going to a party, I know you will be so excited to see all the presents. I know you will do a good job of listening to me when I tell you it is time to clean up and time to leave.” By phrasing it this way, we are validating our children’s feelings that they will be excited but letting them know that we still expect them to listen and follow our instructions.
4. Acknowledge positive behavior
Did your child behave well at that holiday party? Did your child listen when you told them it was time to leave, and not throw a tantrum? We want to acknowledge and reward our child’s positive behavior to continue to encourage our child to act this way. We can acknowledge this positive behavior by saying things like “when I told you to clean up you listened and I only had to tell you once, Great Job!!!” or “when I asked you to share your new toy with your cousin you did, Great Job!!” By letting our child know that we see and appreciate their positive behavior, it will provide them with internal motivation to continue to act positively.
5. Emphasize self-care
Make sure you emphasize self-care for yourself and your family. To help your family stay happy and healthy this holiday season, implement some simple self-care routines for the whole family. For example:
By making self-care a priority and making it something that the whole family practices it is easier to hold each other accountable and ultimately follow through with it. These simple self-care practices that we follow can help us stay well-rested to improve our emotional regulation and help keep our immune system strong to fight off any colds or sickness that are frequent this time of year.
I hope you and your family have a nice, relaxing, and low stress Holiday season. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have any questions.
See you soon!
Michael Jankowski, MS, OTR/L
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