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Tips for keeping the holidays fun!

While the stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas is filled with unique activities and joy, this can come with lots of meltdowns and frustrated little ones. While you always know your child best, here are some tips to help keep everyone calm during the busy holiday season to enjoy as much as possible and hopefully have a few fewer meltdowns.

Keep the routine

Children thrive off of routine! If you need to stay connected with your child’s day care provider, ChildWatch is a great resource to keep you informed about daycare/school routines so you can maintain that consistency at home. Try to keep your child’s routine as intact as possible. Do they always eat lunch at 11am? Lunch is as close to 11 as it can be. Do you always read books before going to bed? Be sure to bring books while visiting Grandma to have the least disruption in bedtime. Amidst the chaos of holiday parties, school closings, and visits to family so much will be different. Maintain what you can to help your child find anchors throughout the day.

Get excited about giving

Many of us have seen the meltdowns that can happen when a child doesn’t get what they want as their holiday present. It isn’t pretty, and makes you wonder what values your child is learning. We also know that the children of the family are often showered with gifts galore! Grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, they love to go big on the kids! You might not be able to stop that, and it’s ok. You can help your children by getting them involved in the giving process as early as possible. Talk early about what other family members would be excited to get! It might be drawing a picture of Grandpa’s favorite animal, or a handmade bracelet for Aunt Sally. Help your children execute what they think family members would like and stress the value in giving to others. If you’re ready to take it to another level, go through old toys for your child to pick out to give away. Let them know that they can make another child happy by letting go of a toy they don’t use anymore.

Set clear expectations

Many of us have big events or plans for the holidays. Oftentimes, children end up being the center of attention in a way they don’t know how to handle. If they only see Second-Cousin Bethany when she wants to squeeze their cheeks in a crowded room, it’s hard to get excited about seeing her. Before major, events talk your children through who and what they can expect to happen. If it’s a long party, talk through how they can tell you they need a break. If it’s a full, busy crowd, share who they are likely to see and what their connection to them is. Discuss events in small snippets starting a few weeks in advance. While it may seem like overkill, there is rarely too much preparation for your little one.

Don’t forget they’re kids!

Even the best planning and preparation, sticking to the routine to a tee, and talking about the importance of helping others will only go so far. Every child is different, and sometimes the holidays are where you learn your child’s threshold. Even with the absolute best effort, planning, and communication, most children will have at least one meltdown this season. It’s ok! They’re dealing with a lot of new and unexpected things. As are you. Don’t let one meltdown or behavioral incident ruin the fun and joy of the rest of the season. It isn’t your fault, and it isn’t theirs. Take it in stride, learn what you can, and approach the next event with fresh perspective.