“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Those famous words quoted by crooner Andy Williams are very descriptive of a special time – the holiday season!
Unfortunately for some kids, this special time of year can be ruined because it's just too overwhelming for them. With some quick thinking from mom and dad, though, you can help your child to cope during a stressful time.
Why Are The Holidays Stressful?
There are a million and one reasons why the holidays can be stressful for children, some of them are obvious and some of them are not so obvious.
The reasons your child might be feeling overwhelmed or over-sensitive may include:
A change in routine
Uncomfortable around new people (or people they haven’t seen in a long time)
Overstimulation from lights, sounds, smells, etc
A change in weather
Long days and lack of sleep
Too much food
Helping your kids through the holiday season should be a family effort. When the professionals at Eden Treatment work with kids with eating disorders they get better results when the whole family is involved in the recovery process. This should be something you consider when trying to help your child.
Here are five things you can do to help your sensitive child cope during the holidays.
It’s vital that you open a dialogue with your child, no matter what age they are. They need to know that they can speak to you about anything and you will respect their opinion.
Young kids may not be able to express themselves very well, “Aunty Jane smells” might sound quite rude, but if Aunty Jane’s perfume is particularly strong, you may understand where your child is coming from. You can help them to find solutions for things which particularly disturb them.
Get Them Familiar With Photos
Christmas time is a great time for seeing and meeting the extended family. Unfamiliarity can make some children very shy and worried, particularly when all the relatives want hugs or immediately ask lots of questions. Anyone could feel worried in a room of strangers doing that!
Try to introduce new family members by showing them pictures first, even setting up a video call. Little things like this will make a big difference. Build a connection by telling the child something that they might have in common with the relative – you both like gingerbread, for example.
Watch For Changes
You know your kids, and you should know the signs that they are getting ratty or tired. You should also know if they are uncomfortable.
Make sure you check in with your kid regularly but keep an eye on them for changes in behavior too.
Go Easy On The Junk Food
Christmas means candy and cakes, New Year’s means snacks like popcorn and chips. Between Christmas and New Year’s most families tend to live on leftovers and various snack pieces.
This all tastes great, but it can upset sensitive tummies and have a knock-on effect on the behaviors of more sensitive kids. Go easy on the junk food, let them have a little more than usual, but always set healthy limits and stick to them.
Don’t Push Them Too Hard
This last tip is the most important. If they need a break, if they don’t want to kiss or hug any more relatives – whatever it is, allow them to step away from the situation. You are the adult, and it is your responsibility not to push your child further than they can go in any situation. Set them up for success, not failure.