As a parent, the holidays can bring some of the happiest, yet stressful times with children. There are school festivities, visits with Santa, community events, Christmas parties and more!
All of this is exciting, but for young children and babies, it can sometimes be overwhelming. With new faces, events and experiences, can emerge new behavior in kids that can be unexpected. Plus you add in more sugar and less sleep... which doesn't help.
So here are 5 tips to help you parent through the holidays...
1. Set expectations before the party. Set clear expectations, rules and regulations before a holiday event. Sit down with your kids and explain what is going to happen, how long you're going to stay, who will be there, etc. Kids thrive on routine so when something is out of the norm, clarifying rules beforehand helps prevent tantrums or meltdowns.
2. Keep age-appropriate expectations. Do the best you can to set your child up for success and don't expect things from them that you normally wouldn't day-to-day. For example, you can't expect your 2-year old to act like your 10-year old at a social gathering. If they are up an hour past their bedtime, they will act like it. Sometimes, when you expect the worst though, you'll be pleasantly surprised!
3. Don't force affection. Let your kids decide who to give hugs to or show affection towards. Don't force them to hug relatives or friends. This allows them to feel in control of their own body and emotions.
4. Focus on service. Try to take the focus off of gift giving, and think of ways you can serve others. This can tone down the craziness of buying, shopping and checking off your list of endless presents you need to buy. Establish a one-gift tradition to exchange something within your family or make edible treats to give away to your neighbors. Ask grandparents for experiences rather than gifts or toys this year.
5. Give them close attention once a day. Parents often feel so scattered during the holidays that we forget children need our time more than ever when things feel hectic. Take even just 15-30 minutes each day to read together, play a game or do an activity that will allow you to connect to your child (building legos, doing a craft, etc.).
Remember, the best gift you can give your child this season is your time and making memories together. Try not to stress about the little things, and enjoy the holidays through their eyes!
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