posted Dec 21, 2015, 11:08 AM by Nicole Grabowski - CDHS
updated Dec 21, 2015, 11:09 AM
December 21, 2015 - The holidays can be stressful, but there are things you can do to have more positive experiences and fewer negative ones. Take a few minutes to think about what’s important to you and how you want to be together with loved ones.
- Create the holiday experience you want your kids to remember.
The gift of the present moment is that you have a chance right now to shape the memories your children will carry with them. Even if what you remember from your childhood was not all positive, this season you and your family can start traditions and rituals that will be special and meaningful for years to come. Discover some favorite things, like stories to share or special foods to eat, that your kids will look forward to each and every holiday-time.
- Find time to be playful with your kids.
Sometimes in the midst of the holiday chaos this is easy to forget, but what kids really want to do is spend time with their parents and special caregivers. Allow yourself to take a break from the shopping, cooking, and cleaning to follow their lead and really play with your child. Read a book or have a tea party. Play a game or frolic outside in the snow, with no other goal than spending time together. Being a kid again is good for everyone.
- Manage expectations, for yourself and your kids.
The holidays are full of expectations like getting the perfect gift, having well-behaved children at the mall, and patching up relationships. It’s hard to cope with disappointment or frustration when these things don’t happen the way we hope they will. Think ahead of time what you will do if things get out of hand so that you don’t react out of embarrassment or anger. Tell your kids in clear and simple words what to expect in new situations. Letting them know how you expect them to behave and why that’s important to you will reduce everyone’s stress.
- Stick to some routine each day.
Kids and parents do best when they know what to expect in their daily lives. We feel safe in the world when we know what happens next and who we can count on. Keeping up some of the usual routines will help maintain that sense of order and control. Naptime and bath and bedtime routines are especially important to stick to for kids even when visiting or traveling; resting allows them to reset and get ready for the next experience. It’s important for you, too, to stick with adult routines so you can stay calm and not get too stressed.
- Respect and follow your kid’s temperament.
Each of us has a unique way we are comfortable in the world and we call that temperament. Tuning in to your kid’s temperament and allowing them to adjust in their own way will help them feel relaxed during the holidays. If your child is slow to warm up and needs time to observe before joining in, explain to others that this is fine with you and don’t force them to interact too soon. Your energetic, enthusiastic child may be reluctant to try new foods or follow new rules so let others know what’s ok with you and help your child anticipate how to handle these changes. Being your child’s champion may be the best gift of all since it shows them that you understand them, that you love them and that will be there to protect them.
If you find that your stress or moodiness persists during or after the holidays, support and help are available. If you’re worried about how someone else is treating their child, make the call. Assistance can be found at 1-844-CO4Kids or go to www.co4kids.org and look under Feeling Stressed?