The hustle and bustle of the holiday season, this year, will be a little different but, no doubt, it will still exciting for our kids. While holiday parties may be missing from our typical December schedules, we shouldn’t let the pandemic stop the spirit of the season! Decorating the house, wrapping gifts, and baking goodies will keep the joy alive for our families. But, just like any other year, the excitement can become overwhelming and put children into sensory overload. This, coupled with the uncertainty we are all feeling, can increase cortisol, causing more stress than joy. So implementing positive strategies into our routines can help counteract the tension and reconnect us to the season’s true meaning.
During the holidays, children’s emotions are at the forefront, and a season of excitement, happiness, and hope can quickly turn into apprehension, stress, and irritability. Constant stimuli and lack of downtime lead to exhaustion and crankiness, and, as a result, children become more reactive, and behavior issues crop up. Even the most laid-back of children might have difficulty managing their emotions. The ups and downs of the emotional roller coaster also make it challenging for parents to keep themselves calm, let alone keeping their children calm. What should be a time of love and peace can quickly end in frustration and arguments.
Much of this season’s adverse effects are the result of upended schedules, late nights, and perhaps, new unhealthy habits. And because the season is “magical,” parents often assume their children will automatically be on their best behavior. Sadly, this is not the case, and some parents resort to shouting, threatening to call Santa, or taking presents away. And yes, while parents may win the fight, it often results in everyone feeling horrible. To help prevent these things from happening, it’s essential to keep some routines in place, such as snack and bedtimes, and allow children some downtime each day. It’s also crucial for parents to give their children meaningful attention, like snuggling, and using positive strategies to reinforce good behavior.
The strategies that are most important to develop in parenting being attuned to your child and patient with their child’s ever-changing holiday emotions, recognize the importance of adaptability, and nurture them when they are overwhelmed by stimuli. Parents should look for ways to prompt good behavior during the holidays and provide edutainment. Implementing these ideas creates consistency in parenting and helps parents connect with their children each day.
The holidays should be a joyful time of year. To keep things magical this year, it will be necessary to maintain some normalcy amid the chaos while also creating opportunities for children to do and be their best. Having positive reinforcement strategies in place can help alleviate undesirable behaviors. Giving grace to children when they feel overwhelmed, will also provide more peace and connection throughout the holiday season.
I hope you have enjoyed this blog and over the next several months we will share parenting strategies with you that support the Life Skills we teach your children in class.