The holiday season is stressful; I totally feel you! At a time when parents and children alike want to have the most fun and feel the least stressed, the holiday season is the season where stress for parents and children exponentially increases.
We all have different ways of communicating our stress level to others. For your child, the way he does that is through temper tantrums. And I don’t know about you, but I feel super stressed when a child in my life goes through one of those. Undoubtedly, it’s stressful for him too.
What’s the best way to handle a holiday temper tantrum? Prevent them before they start! Check out the tips below for a happier and less stressed holiday season.
1. Stick with your child’s routine as much as possible
The holiday season is the season of extra parties, get-togethers, and community events. Your child is bound to be a little out of his routine. If your child is preschool age or younger OR really craves a regular routine, this could be an extra source of stress.
Prepare your child ahead of time for changes. Also, keep events time-limited. It’s ok to bow out early or arrive late if it benefits your child’s mental and behavioral health. Lastly, be mindful of any cues your child is giving you that he’s getting tired. You know your child the best and these cues can look like anything from crankiness and defiance, to even hyperactivity.
2. Limit sweets
Tis the season for sugar overload! Sugar can crank up a child’s energy and then make him moody and irritable if he crashes. It is a good choice to be mindful of your child’s dietary intake during the holidays.
Many parents tell me their kid is getting a ton of unnecessary sweets at school. Talk to the teacher. I’m betting you she’s on board with limiting them in the classroom as well. Also, talk to your child about how much candy he should eat. Make a game out of it and challenge him to see how much candy he can save instead of eat. Reward him at the end of the day with a non-sweet treat.
3. Find time for quiet moments each day
Holidays are the season of rushing. I totally get it. My calendar fills up with both fun stuff and obligations. Book in moments of the day for you and your child to focus with 2-3 minutes of checking in without distractions. Use this time to communicate and get on the same page. Talk about how things are going, tell your child if you have any needs, and ask your child about his. Communication always helps stave off temper tantrums.
4. Avoid bribery
Tell me if you’ve heard yourself say this: “If you stop that right now Santa will give you an extra present.” I know it’s tempting, but maintain that control and stay away from bribes. They can really spin out of control and add to behavioral challenges.
5. Avoid empty threats
How about this statement: “If you don’t stop that Santa’s not going to bring you any presents.” Really? Be careful with this one. Here’s why:
1. You have to be prepared to follow through. So really ask yourself if on Christmas Day your child is going to wake up to a present-less Christmas.
2. It doesn’t solve the problem right now because the punishment is still weeks away.
3. Santa’s not here, you are. You want your child to mind your words. Maintain your power by setting your boundaries and letting your child know you the parent will follow through.
6. Give yourself plenty of self-care.
Get some rest and relaxation time in for yourself. Ultimately, your child can only have so much self control. It’s up to you as the parent to maintain control of your emotions and behaviors. Take the time to regulate yourself so you can help your child during his times of need.
Bottom line: Holidays = stress. The more you can prepare for possible situations that increase challenging behavior, the more you will be able to prevent and manage it.
Please comment below: Does your child have holiday temper tantrums? How do you manage his/her stress? What about yours?
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a dual concentration in Children, Youth, and Families; and Behavioral Health.