The holiday season is upon us which gets MOST people in a cheery and festive mood. I say MOST because there are a handful of people who do not get excited about these festive times and I’m not talking about the Scrooges out there. A lot of children will experience anxiety and unease as the first set of decorations start littering around the house and school. Some children are very dependent on schedules and uniformity so when they see “new” items and “new” events going on in their day they will get extremely anxious and will express this in subtle annnnnnnd not so subtle ways.
You may see an increase in “meltdowns” as well as the intensity of the meltdowns. You may start to see new behaviors and the timing of them may be completely off (to you). Sleep regression could happen in addition to difficulty falling asleep at night. Are you having an “ahh haa” moment yet? I bet you are wondering how to prevent and/or address the
impending doom possible upset and preserve the joy of the season. Well here is a list of dos and don’ts to help you get through the holidays “almost” drama free.
Don’t: Greet him/her upon waking up with your Santa hat on and Christmas music blaring and tell him “Guess what we are doing today?!?!?!”
Do: Prepare your child a few days before you start decorating. Talk about the holidays coming up. Show him/her last years Christmas pictures.
Don’t: Surprise your child with “fun” holiday activities after school or on the weekends.
Do: Contact your child’s teacher and ask what the schedule will be like in December. Will they be singing Christmas carols? Will they be making Christmas crafts? Will they be watching a Christmas movie? Will they be taking a field trip? If yes to any of these then find out when, where, and what time. Once you have this information, write out a calendar for the month and review each week with your child along with making a daily schedule as well.
Don’t: Get upset when your child wants to stay in their room when alllllllll the people come over for a holiday event. Also, don’t get upset when they don’t want to participate in the “fun” games/crafts that the other kids are doing.
Do: Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. You can never prep them too much. Also, talk about what they are feeling and experiencing. Use words such as “overwhelmed” and “worried.” I like to use pictures with specific faces along with these “feeling” words. Visuals are great to have on hand.
Don’t: Get upset when they are not happy about certain gifts they get, whether it be from Santa or Aunt Sally.
Do: Use words such as “unexpected” and “surprised.” For example, “That present was not what you thought it was going to be. That was unexpected.” Also, prep them ahead of the gift exchange and tell them that “Every gift will be a surprise and we may not like it which is okay and we can talk about it after we leave so we don’t hurt their feelings.”
I hope some of these Dos and Don’ts will help your kiddos have a more enjoyable holiday which in turn will make yours enjoyable as well. Just remember these top 3 things:
- Be flexible
I kept this post short, but trust me I could talk to you for hours about this because not only do I see this and address it with my clients, but my own child has a sensory processing deficit so I know first hand what you are dealing with. If you want to chat more about this and need more ideas, send me an email and I will be happy to talk with you. Even if you just want a fellow parent to vent to, I’m your lady. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Holidays!