Surviving the Holidays with Little Kids
While the holidays are an exciting time for children
and adults, they also can bring out the worst behavior
in everyone. The holidays can stress you out so much
that you forget to have a good time and enjoy your
Many families are stretched too thin during the holiday season. Even young children can sense added stress in the family. If you are uptight, more prone toward yelling or punishing your children, or are unable to give your children some undivided attention, your
children may act out as a result. Late nights and the
frenzy of visiting friends and family may make your
normally reasonable toddler or preschooler prone to tantrums and whining. Taking your children’s needs into account
and planning in advance for possible behavioral
problems can minimize family stress.
Getting a Handle on the Holidays
Here are some strategies for coping with schedule
changes, exhaustion and other problems that can cause
children to act out:
- Make an effort to provide some structure for your child. Maintaining the familiar routines that
surround bedtime, meal times, and daily activities
enable young children to deal with the excitement
of the holiday.
- Set aside time exclusively for your children each
day. If you are preoccupied and unavailable, your
children may act out to get your attention. For
example, plan to choose a Christmas tree together,
go shopping as a family, play games or watch a
- Be aware that children (and adults) who don’t get
enough sleep can be testy. Avoid late-night
outings if you can help it. If not, prepare yourself
for some whining or other difficult behavior. Be
sympathetic, rather than annoyed or upset.
- Be honest with your children about your own
feelings. If you are feeling pressured, uptight or
overburdened, tell them. Ask for their help or tell
them you need to get away for a walk or need a
time out in your room. If you do get upset and
yell, apologize and move on. It’s important for
children to understand that you are human and
make mistakes, but that you can admit your
mistakes and ask forgiveness.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Minor issues will
arise. Assess whether it’s really important, or
whether you can ignore it. If you are concerned
about gift-receiving etiquette, talk to your children
in advance about appropriate behavior. But don’t
let societal pressure cause you to be harder on
your children than you normally would be.
Remember, children often don’t mean to hurt
feelings. They simply say what they think.
Put your family–not your chores for your
family–first. Remember that having perfectly
prepared meals or perfectly wrapped gifts or
perfectly decorated trees is not more important
than creating great family memories. Holidays are
for enjoyment and doing with family and friends.
Relax and let go or share some of the little jobs.
Think of all the jobs you do that little hands would
- scrubbing potatoes
- decorating paper place mats
- mixing turkey stuffing
- putting stamps on or sealing cards or
- stenciling window decorations
- decorating the tree
- There’s no end to the number of jobs you can
delegate to your energetic elves. Even if they
don’t do the job as you would have, you’ll see their
faces glow when you praise them for their
creativity and helpfulness.
- Plan time just for togetherness. For example, take
a walk or ride around town to see the lights and
cut your own Christmas tree.
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