Wasn’t it just summer? Not sure where the Fall went, but anyway, the holiday season is upon us and that means as families we are often busier than usual with cooking, shopping, decorating, parties, wrapping and traveling. All those things can disrupt our regular schedules and often cause us undue stress. And when holidays cause us stress, imagine the havoc they wreak on our little ones!
Holidays are full of excitement, expectation and often a sensory overload of lights, sounds and smells.
Here are 5 ways to help minimize holiday tantrums and meltdowns for young children.
- Keep A Schedule: Do your best to stick to your child’s regular schedule, because missing naps or delaying meals will just add to meltdown behaviors. This may mean, leaving parties early, or taking your child’s pajamas & favorite blankie to the party, or bringing her “preferred” meal from home to a relative’s house or snacks in the shopping cart while shopping.
- Talk About Upcoming Experiences: Whether it’s visiting Aunt Jean in Blawnox or attending Synagogue, use pictures and words to tell your toddler where you are going and what will be happening when you get there. Using real photos to explain new events can be very helpful for young children. Start practicing for upcoming events ahead of time!
- Have Expectations for Behavior: Many parents, in order to avoid tantrums, are apt to just “give in” to avoid meltdowns, meaning letting Joey eat a 5th cookie when you said “only one cookie” or letting Molly hit her little brother without consequence for fear of “making a scene”. But, giving into unacceptable behaviors during the holidays is only going to make things worse for YOU in the long run. Stick to rules and pick your battles with your toddler during the holidays.
- Bring Necessities: If your child has significant sensory issues or gets easily overwhelmed in crowds, bring things such as ear plugs, sun glasses, comforting toys/fidgets and make sure the place you are headed, be it a mall, church, or relative’s house has a quiet place where you can take your child to decompress if he does become overwhelmed or begins to meltdown.
- Prepare grandparents and other relatives before your visit: Visiting people they don’t see often or new places can overwhelm toddlers. Explain to the adults before you arrive at their home that your son “does not like to be held and kissed” or “needs to nap at 2pm’ or “will not eat turkey” or “needs to be in bed by 8pm” and this will help all the adults allow you and your child to stick to your usual schedule even when visiting.
And remember, tantrums for toddlers are inevitable at times no matter how well we prepare, but taking a few steps ahead of time can perhaps minimize the meltdowns.