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 of year.
You might be wondering what is causing your child to act out — and understanding the cause of these behaviors will help you navigate these situations around the holidays. When your child starts to act out of character, cry more often or have an increase in tantrums, know that they are probably just overstimulated — they are taking in too many sights, sounds and smells, and it can be overwhelming for little children.
Keep these things in mind this holiday season to help reduce meltdowns:
- Keep it simple. Do not over plan your day. Skipping naps and losing 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,” 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 them as tantrum-free and relaxing as possible.
— Submitted by LLA Therapy, which offers speech-language, physical, occupational, behavioral, and music therapy at its clinics in Fairlawn, Hudson and Medina. LLA is committed to guiding all individuals toward quality therapy solutions to improve the lives of their patients and their families in a collaborative, nurturing and supportive atmosphere. For more information, visit llatherapy.org.