You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

The Holidays are Approaching….Need Tips on Coping?

Tis the season of great joy, happiness, perfect family togetherness,…..not always! 

The holidays are quickly approaching and for parents of young children this season can be wonderful, but also full of challenges.  If you are looking for the perfect holiday experiences, you are destined to be disappointed.  You can have a wonderful season with family friends, and sanity if you start with your expectations.  Most disappointment starts with expectations that are unrealistic.  The reality of most houses is that the turkey may be over done, the children have spilled on their outfits, the tree is leaning a bit and the gifts may be wrapped with duct tape!  The truth is that the holidays are all about the relationships, not the details.  That is a big statement from me, because I can certainly get caught up in the details!  If parents are stressed, who else becomes stressed???  Your children…

Let’s look at some tips for decreasing your stress and helping you and your child enjoy this wonderful time of year.

  1. Holidays can be very difficult for a child especially if they tend to get over stimulated like infants and toddlers.  Provide quiet “touch time” with your child each day, and remove stimulation if your child becomes very fussy or clingy.  Try to plan just one major activity a day.
  2. Know your child’s developmental level–handling excitement and managing disappointment are sophisticated skills for children under age 8.  Know that socially unacceptable behavior may occur!
  3. Think about how you handle stress in general and holiday stress in particular.  Children observe our behavior and learn from what they observe. Model good coping skills for your children.
  4. Encourage thinking of others and our many blessings.  Talk about the gifts and blessings that your family enjoys and the importance of sharing with those less fortunate.  Removing some of the “I want” and replacing it with “I am thankful for…” can reduce stress.
  5. Provide structure and routine.  Children behave better, sleep better, and are less fussy when there is routine.  That doesn’t mean that you have to stick to your every day routine, but make sure you are planning for nap time and planning for quiet times.  Be your child’s advocate, when your child needs down time, insist.
  6. When visiting family and friends, there may be many new faces for your child.  Introduce unfamiliar people slowly.  Hold your child as they get to know others.  Do not let your baby be passed around among many new people.  Stay where your child can see your familiar face.  Your child may be happy being held by others if he or she can see you.
  7. When spending the night away from home.  Try to keep the familiar bedtime ritual used at home.  Be sure that you have a safe sleeping area for your child.  Bring a pack-n-play or be sure that the crib that is provided is safe.  Don’t forget that special “lovey” or book that your child needs to sleep!
  8. Be careful introducing lots of new foods in your child’s diet and your diet when nursing.  Tummy aches can be a problem when there are lots of new foods, but relax; the holidays bring some extra sweets.  Teach that cookies and treats are fine in moderation.  Allow your child to indulge!
  9. Set appropriate boundaries and limits.  Toddlers need limits in order to feel secure.  If you must discipline, be respectful of your child, especially older children.  Discipline in private.
  10. Carve out quiet time with each child.  Quiet time in the evening is a must after an active day.

Tips on family gatherings, shopping, Santa visits and more to come…what tips do you have to help families enjoy the holidays?

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.



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