Three challenges children face during the holidays and how you can help –

The holiday season is wonderful, but it is also a difficult time for many, including many children. While this time of year is joyful and exciting and can be a wonderful celebration of family and community, it can also be overwhelming for many children, even those in the warmer homes.

Here are some things that can challenge your child’s balance and strategies to help him or her regain balance.

Also remember that children are very sensitive to the emotional state of the adults around them, so if you are struggling with sadness, anxiety, financial stress, or any other challenge at this time of year, pay attention to how is your child and find ways to do it. it offers tranquility, connection and cheerful play.


1. Overstimulation

Holiday lights, music, bells, noisy toys and most of all holiday crowds can be a little too much for kids with sensitive nervous systems. All children tend to feel overwhelmed by stimulation at some point, and some are much more reactive to it than others. Overstimulation can manifest in many ways, such as tantrums, crying, emotional volatility, withdrawal, and anger. An overwhelmed child often leads to a rapidly overwhelmed and frustrated adult, which makes this situation even more difficult (especially since you are likely to be a little overstimulated!)

How you can help: When a child’s nervous system is overflowing, you won’t be able to reason with their reaction with a conversation or rational thoughts. Your best course of action here is to pay close attention to how your child is in situations with a lot of sensory stimulation and to move them lovingly to a quiet place when their energy begins to fragment or disperse. Wherever you go, find a quiet place to retire before things go crazy, so be prepared in advance.

Taking a quiet time to rest and registering with your child throughout the day will help you a lot, even if it’s only a few minutes every hour or two. If you are traveling to see friends or family and your child enjoys a yoga practice, consider bringing your own yoga mat. It can serve as a safe retreat space to rest in the child’s posture or sit with a jar of glitter for a few minutes if necessary.

Finally, breathing is very powerful, and spending a few moments with your child, practicing heart and belly breathing or back breathing can do wonders to calm your nervous system. If your child is very young, try to let him sit on your lap and breathe together so that he can be comforted by the sound and sensation of your breathing as well as his.


2. A little proximity

Holiday time can often come with many unwanted touches from friends, family and even strangers. We’ve all seen pictures of hysterical kids sitting on a stranger’s lap in a Santa costume! It’s natural that family members and friends who haven’t seen your child in a long time will want to hug and kiss him, but many children “touch” each other quickly and feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed by all this love. close. For young children, they may not even recognize some of the people who make the hug, and even older children often don’t feel as familiar and comfortable with family members as adults do with them.

How you can help: This is a delicate subject for many families, but children are beginning to learn early on about personal boundaries and their right to say no to unwanted tact. (Read more about this in the CNN article “I’m not my son’s body”). Each person should feel empowered to say who can touch them and when (and decide when they want to touch someone else), but if not hugging someone is accompanied by a feeling of guilt or shame, or if your child feels which is disappointing you. by not embracing someone you want to embrace, you can quickly learn to nullify your own feelings about being touched in order to make others happy and keep things pleasant. Alternatively, your child may become resentful or even aggressive, and may not want to spend time with people who love him or her, in something that is easily avoided.

For some children, it may be helpful to show them pictures of people they haven’t seen in a long time and talk about who these people are in relation to them. Tell your child how excited they are to see you, and answer any questions they may have. You can even say things like, “Aunt Ally might want to give you a hug when we get to her house. Do you think it would work for you?” and then discuss options if hugging doesn’t feel right to you. For some children, especially younger ones, it may be helpful to hug someone first, before your child makes a greeting, so that they can measure your comfort level and use it to help you define your .

Get to know your child, and if you know that he or she is likely to feel uncomfortable with the close physical contact you are experiencing in a social situation, talk to him or her about a plan in advance. You may suggest that you wave to your family, punch or punch them instead of hugging, and develop a signal that they can use to let you know that they feel uncomfortable and need to intervene.


In a situation where you need to intervene, a simple but clear statement such as “El Pau is offering five times instead of hugs today” or “El Pau is just saying hello now but maybe I would like to give a hug later” should reach out to other adults. on board.


If you have certain family members who you think will not respond to a statement like this at this time, consider calling them in advance to let them know about the plan and be prepared to grab your child or hold his or her hand and take him or her away. really necessary.

Even if you have a child who is usually affectionate, the overwhelming holiday can make any child less comfortable. It’s important to be mindful of your child’s emotional state during transitions and introductions to new groups of people, and be prepared to help him or her if he or she seems to be struggling.

None of these thoughts are intended to suggest that you discourage your child from being affectionate, but everyone will benefit from spontaneous, sincere, rather than forced, affection. Adults who love your child can learn to appreciate that you are teaching them to respect their instincts and to develop a healthy understanding of boundaries and consent. If a situation arises in which an adult is upset with your child for not hugging, it is very important for your child to know that you understand him or her and that you are not angry with him or her for this. It reinforces that it’s always okay to need a little personal space, and that even people who love each other very often need that space.


3. Changes in routine

While children may be excited to take a break from school, and the whole family may feel like traveling or just spending time at home together, routine changes can be difficult for children. Routines give a sense of predictability and rhythm to the day, which allows children to settle down and feel comfortable knowing what will come next for them. The routine changes that come with the holidays can be fun, but they can also make children nervous, anxious, uncomfortable, and exhausted.

How you can help: You can support your child by considering his or her needs (especially sleep and healthy eating needs!) Before starting each day, and informing him or her of what is about to happen. As adults we plan our days, so we take for granted the ability to mentally prepare for what is to come. Let your child know how the day will unfold so that he or she will not be anxious about what is to come or feel disoriented. Some children will even benefit from a written plan (or drawing with stick figures) for the day. Others enjoy a brief guided tour that takes them through the main events of the next day. If you think plans may change during the day and you have a child who is very attached to the plan, let them know that if things need to change, you will tell them right away and understand if it costs them.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have free time! If an open space for relaxation and creative play is part of your plan, this is great. You don’t have to micro-plan your child’s time, just include the open space in the plan of the day you share with him. And if your child is a little older, don’t forget to ask if there’s anything they’d like to make time for during the day and do your best to honor that request.

Finally, changes in your routine can make it difficult for your child to fall asleep at night. Recognize it and plan to spend some more time relaxing with it if necessary. You can also try using a guided relaxation to fall asleep and encourage you to practice it alone if you wake up at night.


Honoring your little ones as full members of your family and community means recognizing and responding to their needs, even when those needs don’t fit well with the planned holidays. This is so complicated, but doing so can contribute to a holiday season that truly nurtures your family’s soul. I wish you all a season of peace.

#challenges #children #face #holidays

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