The holiday season is a time when most of us want to focus on traditions, friends and family. In the process, we have to turn our schedules upside down and our days become filled with excitement and sometimes chaos.
For children who depend upon daily routines and careful planning of activities, times of fun and excitement can become moments of anxiety and stress. Here are some tips for ensuring your child enjoys this holiday season.
Pace your holiday activities. This will keep your child from becoming overwhelmed. If your child wants to take a break from opening presents to play with a new toy, allow him or her to do so. Packing an activity bag with favorite toys and games for out-of-home festivities is also a good idea. These will help you and your child take breaks away from stressful holiday events, if necessary.
Bring appropriate food and drink. If your child is on a special diet, it’s a good idea to bring food and drink in the event that these restrictions are not considered in the food provided at the event. Bring the food items they enjoy most so they are more likely to eat and less likely to be frustrated if denied access to other food items at holiday events.
Involve your children in holiday activities. Whether you are baking pies or buying gifts, it is important to give your child specific tasks and work together as a family. Talking about the tasks will also help keep children engaged. For example, when shopping, talk about what types of items others might like and how they will feel after opening their gifts.
Try to keep to your daily routine as much as possible. If your child eats dinner at 5 p.m. but your family is planning to eat at 6 p.m., have your child eat at his or her regular time and have your child play with items in the activity bag while the rest of the family eats later.
Remember, the holidays are about being with the ones you love. Don’t let the stress of the season keep you or your child from enjoying this time.
Jennifer Rava, MS, BCBA