The holiday season is crowded with activity and excitement, which can all be fun for young children, but may also have some unintended consequences: behavior changes. Toddlers and preschoolers can experience a myriad of emotions, including: anticipation of special activities and events; joy (or disappointment) regarding gifts; anxiety being around unfamiliar relatives and situations; confusion over changing routines (including lack of sleep); sadness at missing their caregivers and friends; and feeling let down when, suddenly, all of the seasonal hoopla ends. First Things First offers the following tips – compiled from various online resources – families can use to help kids navigate these holiday hurdles:
Follow routines. As much as possible, keep morning rituals, naps, bedtimes and meal schedules as consistent as possible. They give kids a sense of security and confidence.
Let kids be kids. Whatever the activity, think of it from your child’s point of view. Make sure they understand what will happen and what is expected of them. Bring things for them to do or play with so they enjoy themselves, too.
Listen to your child’s cues. Changes in eating habits, difficulty sleeping, impulsiveness, withdrawal and tantrums can all be signs that your child is experiencing feelings that they find difficult to express. Talk with your child in a supportive way and help them find ways to work through those emotions.
Be available. Make time for one-on-one activities with your child – reading together, playing with new toys, craft projects, volunteering or exercise. These are ways for your child to feel connected to you despite all the hustle and bustle.
Look back – and forward. Reliving holiday memories and identifying exciting things happening in the next few months – a birthday, a family trip, etc. – are ways to help your child put the holidays in to context.
Even adults often feel overwhelmed by the flurry of holiday activity. By taking time out to check in with our kids (and ourselves in the process), we can keep the holiday blues at bay and make the end of the year a winter wonderland for everyone.