The holidays are coming! This time of year is full of hustle and bustle. We are eager to share our holiday traditions with our children, and to create new ones to make the season extra special. For many children, this can also be a stressful time. Strange food, strange people, new places, too much going, doing, and big crowds can lead to meltdowns. Suddenly this special season can seem to be too much! I have a few suggestions to help your preschooler enjoy this wonderful time of the year.
- Try to maintain a regular routine as much as possible. Try not to skip naps, have regular meals and bedtimes. Children crave routine, too much can lead to stress.
- Plan regular meals and snacks. Children will naturally gravitate to desserts, candy and sweets. Be mindful of your child’s intake of sugar, and have healthy options available to balance your child’s diet. Holidays bring special meals as well; many children will not be willing to try these new foods. Have some back up food handy and don’t sweat it if your child doesn’t try Grandma’s special holiday roast.
- Choose events and parties carefully, you don’t have to accept every invitation or go to every event. Most preschoolers can handle one special event a day, try not to overload them.
- Try to not put your child on the spot. They may not be willing to give grandpa a kiss and hug; maybe a high five would go over better. Some children love the spotlight, others shrink under the pressure. Know your own child’s preferences and honor them.
- Keep your child informed of what is happening, children like to know what is going on and need time to process new information. Going to Aunt Mary’s for dinner might seem scary to them.
- Plan for quiet time. Give children plenty of time to play quietly and to unwind. Being over stimulated is not a good feeling; children can feel out of control and may act out.
- Don’t fall into a “perfection” mindset, everything does not have to be just exactly so, decorating the tree may take several days, children don’t want to make 15 different types of cookies, and presents don’t have to be perfectly wrapped. Good enough is enough for now.
- Keep it simple, when your children are older they will appreciate your traditions more and participate willingly. Most children do not remember all of last year’s events. For the very young, it is all new.
- Remember to be giving. Drop some food off to the food pantry, buy hats and gloves for the homeless or give to Toys for Tots. They might be too little to understand now, but it is a good tradition to start now.
- Relax and enjoy. Try to not let stress consume you, your children DO know how you are feeling, and they will become stressed as well. Take time for yourself, whatever is relaxing to you; make the time to do it.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful. It will be January before we know it! A joyful holiday season to all.