“It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you be of good cheer
It’s the most wonderful time of the year”
–Songwriters: Eddie Pola / George Wyle
This time of the year has a lot of fun and exciting things to look forward to, but it can also be stressful. Adults, childcare workers, and children alike often go through a broad range of emotions during the holiday season. There’s the excitement of receiving gifts and seeing family members and friends, but there’s also a lot of overwhelm and exhaustion that can arise from the festivities.
Adults face a lot of stress and pressure as they navigate scheduling conflicts and financial constraints that occur at this time of year. On the other hand, many children struggle with emotional dysregulation, overexcitement in anticipation of gifts, overstimulation from overscheduling, and uncertainty as they navigate the stress of the adults in their life.
In short, the holiday season has a lot of stressors that can result in big emotions for everyone. So, here are some tips for dealing with those big emotions and ensuring that everyone has a happy holiday season.
Stick to a Routine
Winter break can be a major disruption for kids. The change in daily routine can cause anxiety, which can lead to behavior problems and impair their ability to self-regulate. The best way to deal with these disruptions is to implement a schedule. Ensure they are getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet that hasn’t been overloaded with tasty, holiday treats, which are known to lower mood and energy levels.
Be Mindful of Triggers
Simply put, being mindful of your and your child’s needs is one of the best ways to manage your emotions. Make sure that you are meeting your own needs so that you can meet the needs of your children. Children reflect the energy they sense from adults, meaning if you are frazzled and overwhelmed you are likely to be met with a child radiating that same negative energy.
Be mindful of the things that make it harder for your child to self-regulate and keep in contact with your childcare providers so that they can stay up to date as well. Additionally, do what you can to either avoid those triggers or adequately prepare you and your child for facing them.
Make Time for Connection
Even as you and your kids are navigating the holiday chaos, make sure your child feels seen and heard. This could mean setting aside some designated family time, being patient with their emotional outbursts, and doing your best to acknowledge and validate their feelings. It could also be a great time to come up with a new, family tradition that everyone can enjoy.
Focus on Gratitude and Kindness
Focusing on gratitude and kindness is a great way to recenter everyone’s emotions this holiday season. Remind your children to be grateful, focus on the positives (even if your holiday celebrations aren’t going quite according to plan), and try to make time to focus on what you can do for others rather than what you can get.
The winter holiday season is one of the best times of the year, but it can also be a very difficult time. For some, this time of year can be depressing or extremely triggering if they are dealing with the loss of a loved one, seasonal depression, or financial hardships. That’s why it is so important to be mindful of our emotions and how they can impact others.
Be kind, be patient, and have a happy holiday season!