The hustle and bustle of the overstimulating holiday season is quickly approaching! Hanukkah is currently being celebrated and the countdown to Christmas is on. Christmas decorations are going up and the excitement of Santa’s pending arrival is more than most kids, and some adults, can handle. With all the activity and excitement happening around our children, it’s the perfect recipe for tantrums and meltdowns to occur. (You thought we were going to say cookies, didn’t you? Gotcha!)
The more we recognize that holidays are prone to trigger overstimulation via novel activities, unpredictability, potentially stressful abstract ideas and lack of clarity (big man coming down the chimney, anyone?), dietary shifts, and changes in routine for adults and kids alike, the easier we can be proactive and preventative in supporting all of the above to nurture self-regulation versus contribute to upset.
Fortunately, we can make like elves and plan ahead with times for 100% presence/connection they can anticipate (even 10-15 minutes a day is powerful), and love rituals (think special hand shakes when saying goodbye, “sleepovers” in parents’ bed on Friday nights or a beloved song before eating dinner). Special activities like these, sensory breaks, escape plans, and movement ideas make the holidays happy and fun for everyone.
Planning ahead with fun interactive games for holiday vacations, events and trips through the snow to Grandma‘s house is essential. The article below, Preparing Kids for Holiday Breaks in Routine, is packed with ideas on supporting your child(ren) during the hectic holiday season. It can be difficult to set boundaries during this time but by tailoring activities to your child and choosing developmentally appropriate activities (eg maybe no to the dinner party, yes to sledding), maintaining emotional regulation is possible. Wishing you peace and joy this holiday season.