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Getting Through the Holidays

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By Amy Hoffman

Experiencing the holidays through the eyes of a child can be wonderful. Their joy, their excitement, and their fascination can rekindle the magic and bring out the“kid” in all of us. But the holidays can also be very stressful for children and therefore stressful for adults. Changes in sleep schedule, different foods,and meeting new people can turn even the calmest child into a cranky one.

Here are several ideas on how to minimize the “crankies” and maximize the joy:

  • Talk to your child. If you’ll be having house guests, let your child know where everyone is sleeping and for how long. Remember, kids want to know how things will affect them. If she must give up her room or bed, let her keep some of her special stuff in your room, and be sure to remind her that her room will still be her room after the guests leave. Also remind her that some rules may change – no walking around in just your underwear when Aunt Peg is here.
  • Go over the calendar and explain what events will be coming soon. If you are having a party, let them know if it will be a decorating party with a lot of running around or the kind of party where they need to use an inside voice.
  • Let the kids help.Often, it’s easier to do it yourself, but getting your kids to chip in will give them a sense of pride when the guests compliment how pretty the table looks or how delicious the pumpkin pie tastes.
  • Keep the children fed.With a house full of guest, you can be sure that things will not go according to plan and meals will often not be on time. Have some healthy snacks available for the children so they won’t be hungry. Also, if you have a picky eater and are going to be somewhere that might not have the “right” food, call the host and explain that you’ll bring a few things that you know your child will eat.
  • Learn to pick and choose. There is always something to do during the holidays: parties, shopping,baking, decorating, visiting, etc. Don’t try to do everything. Keep in mind that some quiet time listening to music or reading a book with your child is just as important as celebrating the season.
  • Acknowledge your child’s good behavior. Reminding him of his strengths will increase his confidence so that he can manage whatever the holiday throws at him.

The great thing about holidays is that they come every year. So, if something doesn’t go well this year, you can try again next year. Don’t expect perfection– your children won’t. They just want to enjoy this time with you. And isn’t that what holidays are really about?

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