by Tracy M. Gale, PsyD, HSPP, Easterseals Crossroads
The last months of the year can be an exciting, busy, and sometimes overwhelming time for families. The structure and routines that you crafted so diligently are frequently interrupted, and this can make life seem unmanageable. Keep these strategies in mind to help you enjoy the holidays to their fullest:
- Prioritize activities. As a family, discuss opportunities for holiday activities. Make a list and categorize activities by their level of importance. Understand that your family may not be able to take part in all of the activities available, and do not feel pressure to take on more than you can manage during this busy season. As much as possible, include your child in the decision-making process.
- Be clear about activities and expectations. Talk with your child about upcoming events, their purpose and your family’s level of involvement. Have clear expectations for your child’s behavior at activities and make these known to your child prior to the event.
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. As much as possible, try to keep your child on a consistent sleep schedule. Turn off electronics early in the evening and begin the bedtime process. Turn off the lights throughout the house to indicate to your child that others are sleeping, that activities are finished and it is time for rest.
- Give choices. Let your child make decisions about the things that he/she can as much as possible. Have them help in planning their breakfast or their outfit. Giving choices can be very empowering and help your child feel some sense of control.
- Motivation. Have frequent rewards for appropriate behavior during this time. Tell your child what he/she can earn, how to earn it and when a reward will be given for good behavior.
Most importantly, be patient! Remember that everyone can be a little overwhelmed at this time of year, and know that you and your child are doing the best you can to manage your stress during this exciting time.