We think back to what the holidays were like for us as kids and we remember them being magical, but being a parent this time of year can be really tough. Part of that is because the nonstop sugar, the disruptions to kids’ schedules and all the other overstimulating festivities can be more than a kid can handle. “Kids thrive on routine,” explains child development expert Jason Kahn. Add in some extra anticipation about presents and late bedtimes and it can lead to outbursts and tantrums.
Even if kids are excited about what’s going on, the changes the holidays bring to their routine can be a lot for them to handle. Kahn says, “The line between stimulation to a meltdown is razor thin.” He suggests these tips to try to keep those holiday meltdowns from happening.
- Prepare them ahead of time- Try to remember kids aren’t used to the hectic nature of the holidays like we are, so give them an idea of what’s coming and how to deal with it. Talk to them about what’s going on and what you expect, whether that’s sitting at the table with the family for the entire meal or waiting their turn to open gifts.
- Involve them in the planning process- When it comes to getting your kid to do something that’s hard for them, like sitting still for a long time, letting them help plan can give them a sense of control. Talk to them about it and let them come up with a plan to make it easier for them, like having a coloring book at the table to entertain them after they eat.
- Expect them to meltdown anyway- No matter how much you prepare and plan, they’re going to have a meltdown at some point. When it happens, remember it’s normal and they’re probably overstimulated and working through their emotions. “The first thing you want to do is make your kid feel safe,” Kahn explains, “so they can come back to a place where they are able to have a conversation with you.”
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