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Holidays and Children: A Match Not Always Made in Heaven

As the holidays are really just around the corner (how did that happen?!), you may be looking forward to spending time with family or even introducing a new baby to extended family who just can’t wait to meet her.  But holiday gatherings and children don’t always mix as seamlessly as they seem to in the movies.  One moment everything can be as peaceful as snow slowly falling on the ground and the next you’ve got a toddler who’s vivaciously refusing to eat her sweet potatoes making a scene just as everyone is waiting to pray before the meal.

So what are some good ways to avoid chaos?

screaming childPrepare your children for that the day will look like

Children like predictability.  They like knowing that if they’re expected to sit down and eat a meal for 30 minutes with the family, they will also get ample play time later.  They like knowing who they’ll be seeing, and especially what other children will be there to play with.  It may be a good idea to have each child pick out one toy to bring to the gathering explaining they must share this toy with their cousins, friends, etc.

Make your expectations known

Children like boundaries.  They need to know what they can and can’t do, and sometimes that’s not as apparent when they’re in a different place and around different people.  Just like explaining to them what the day will be like, it’s just as important to explain to them what you expect from them.  This can and should be simple.  For example, we expect you to eat what is on your plate sitting at the table, and we expect you to share your toy with your cousins.

Know your child

As a parent, you know when your child is getting weary.  You know when she’s tired and if a meltdown occurs now, it’s out of pure exhaustion.  Keep tabs on your child and be willing to make the assessment that it’s time to go home.  Your family and friends will understand, especially if they have children of their own.