Holidays are stressful, let's be honest here, even without added factors even the calmest and carefree of people can get caught up in the midst of everything that the holidays aren't supposed to be.
We are human, part of our nature is losing are elfing mind's. We surely aren't going to lose Brownie point's if our water boils over every now and again. With that being said, I think it is important to remind ourselves about our little one's that may have a extra hard time with keeping it together even when it is just a random Monday let alone holiday season.
Through all of my research, and reading's I stumbled upon a great article written by Natalie Staats Reiss, Ph.D. entitled Maintaining Mental Health During the Holidays https://www.mentalhelp.net/blogs/maintaining-mental-health-during-the-holidays/. As parents, we often forget ourselves, and forget that we too need to be taken care of, and we are the ones who have to do the self-care. The suggestions in the article include "Do something good for others", "laugh", and "Exercise", amongst many other great suggestions. I chose these three to spotlight because these are three activities that I personally partake in, in general but especially during the holiday season. This brings me to my first tip which is 1. Think happy, be happy. If we as parent's are stressed out we often have a shorter fuse than normal, which will make an already difficult situation even worse. It is important that we try to find our happy place, and approach our children with a leveled head, and not a hot one.
2. Deep Breath, Woosah
Behaviors are inevitable, especially in the child with a behavioral disorder. Rather than reacting at the first sign of a behavior, take a breath, take a deep breath inhaling through you nose, counting to 10, and then exhale through your mouth.
When you’re finished with deep breathing, and it is time to confront the situation remember to 3. Choose your words carefully, do not make threats, and do not make unrealistic punishments especially ones that will have no follow through. It is important to be realistic, rather than promising to take away Christmas if the behavior persists, you should be specific about the situation such as "If you continue to do ... you will not get...", however you may be followed up with "Santa will get it for me"... In that case just ensure your child that Santa does see everything, and you talk to him often so Santa will not get it either if the behavior persist. In all of our parent teaching with our son we were always told to make sure the punishment makes sense for the crime, and I agree one hundred percent. If your child is hitting their sibling, no dessert for a week wouldn't exactly be appropriate, however if they refused to eat dinner taking away dessert for that night would be appropriate. It is also important to remember to never make the punishment indefinite, everything needs a timeline whether it be one night, or 10 minutes, but again this needs to be appropriate to the crime.
4. Do not release your inner Grinch, or Scrooge for that matter. It's the holiday season, a season for giving. When I think of holidays, I think of family time, family tradition, and building memories. It isn't about the best holiday picture, or having the perfect Christmas tree. I'm not saying that your wish's shouldn't be met, but something's just need to be let go, and hey you can surely have your perfect tree when your children are older, you will only have today until tomorrow so hold on to it. If I have learned anything through all of my parenting courses, and meeting's it was "Do not let the children get the best of you". Sometimes it is easy to let the children get you all worked up, and for the lack of better word's get your feather's all ruffled, but this brings me back to the first two tips of think happy, be happy and deep breath, woosah.
Another important tip is to 5. Stand your ground, but remember its Christmas time. Parents can tend to go either way, they are overly strict and watching every move or they let everything go not wanting to be a nitpicker. Somewhere in the middle of these two would be a great place to start. I battle this all the time with myself. Sometimes I feel like we may be being too hard, but then not following through is not offering stability and any constant which children seek routine, and consistency.
It is a hard place to be but by not giving a consequence to your child for a bad behavior, in a way you are condoning the bad behavior and leaving room for them to think that they could possibly get away with it again, and may even push the subject matter with other unwanted behaviors. It is important especially during the holiday season to remind yourself that your child needs consistency the most, even if it is Christmas Eve and your child decides to hit a sibling, or yell at you for not giving them their present's now instead of in the morning. The best thing you can do this holiday season is to offer your child the same thing you offer them any other time of the year.
I hope you enjoyed reading my 5 Tips to Surviving the Holiday Season, and check back often for new articles, resources, and much more.