Helping Your Child Through the Holiday Season

by Lisa Dion, LPC, RPT-S

The holidays are a hectic time for everyone, especially moms and dads and their kiddos. You’re busy planning, purchasing, celebrating, and decking the halls and such. But, moms and dads are also busy being parents: holiday breaks do not apply to you.

So, how can you help your child through this busy time of year? How can you juggle the stress of the holidays and the stress of parenthood? Hiring your own workshop of elves might do it. But here are some other suggestions too:

Keep your routine: As we’ve discussed previously, the brain likes to know what to expect: it craves predictability. This is why making the unknown known is so important. It’s also why children tend to flourish in routine. Doing the same thing over and over allows them to always know what’s on the horizon. And that’s non-threatening.

Be flexible: However, it’s not always easy to keep a routine during the holidays – from school breaks to visiting relatives, your typical day turns into fruitcake: it’s left in the corner discarded and ignored. But, while it may be a struggle to stick to your regularly scheduled program, strive to keep some sort of routine nonetheless. Flexibility during the holidays can be a great asset, but some sort of structure will serve your children well.

Manage your expectations: The holidays are invigorating for all of us, especially kids. No matter what you celebrate, excitement can’t help but enter the living room. The lights, the days and nights of action, the impending presents – magic is in the air! This can leave children more eager than usual: their sippy cup runneth over with giddiness. If we expect this, as parents, it’s easier to manage. So, know that your kiddos may show unbridled enthusiasm. And, better yet, show it with them.

Give your child a job: Providing your child with a job empowers them. It teaches them self-control and responsibility. Even something little can help. If you’re shopping for Thanksgiving dinner, for example, task your child with picking out the pie. Don’t worry, you can always overrule them if needed; after all, you’re management.

Be a role model: We know that kids learn from observation – they watch the people around them and they mimic that behavior. yep, you are your child’s greatest role model. They will do what you do. If you loudly shriek with joy upon seeing Santa at the mall, odds are high that they will too.

Make a plan: As mentioned above, this time of year certainly requires some level of flexibility. But make a plan anyway. If you head out to do some shopping, pack a survival kit for your little one  – snacks, a change of clothes, water, a toy. And plan to be home by naptime. There’s room for deviation, of course, yet sticking to your plan as much as possible will provide your child with uniformity. Remember, this is what they want.

The holidays can quickly turn into the holi-dazed; it’s a busy but exciting few months. The best thing you can do for your child is to allow predictability and authenticity. These things tell them what they need to know most: they are safe and sound.

For more information about play therapy or to learn about our services, please contact us.