As parents we want the Holidays to be a fun time for our kids, but sometimes it seems almost impossible to manage their behavior around this time. You might be wondering what is causing your child to act out. Understanding the cause of these behaviors will help you to navigate these situations around the Holidays. When your child starts to act out of character, cry more often, and have an increase in tantrums, know that they are probably just overstimulated. Meaning, they are taking in too many sights, sounds and smells that they can deal with and it can be overwhelming for little children.
Here are 4 tips to keep in mind this Holiday season to help reduce the Holiday meltdowns:
Keep it simple
Do not over plan your day. Skipping naps and loosing sleep will not be good for your child on a busy day where there is a lot of stimulation.
Take a break
If you can tell your child is having any difficulty (increased aggression, moodiness, withdrawing, crying) take them out of the room and go to a quiet place for a few minutes. This will help them to regulate themselves and be better equipped to handle the overstimulation that occurs during a Holiday gathering, especially during a meal or while opening presents. If your child is really overwhelmed try deep pressure (strong hugs, hard stomping) or rhythmic movements (rocking back and forth).
Spread out gift giving
Kids can get overwhelmed when they receive too many gifts at once, and they begin to lose appreciation for the gifts. Try spreading out the gifts throughout the day and letting them play with their gifts in between.
Not putting kids on the spot
We have all been there. You want your child to be polite around family by saying “hello” or giving hugs to greet everyone and thanking people for the gifts, but it starts to feel like you are nagging your child and adding to the tantrums. Talk about actions/words you want them to use ahead of time, so you are not adding to the sensory overload the day of the event. Let your child know that you want them to say “hello” and greet relatives or that you want them to say “thank you” after opening gifts. If you practice ahead of time, you will not be putting them on the spot and adding to the chaos of the day.
The Holidays are a fun and busy time for everyone! Try implementing these tips to make your Holiday as tantrum-free and relaxing as possible!
-Carrie Ravine, Speech Therapist