Planning for Difficult Christmas Situations

Holiday excitement and routine changes can be very difficult for children. This post focuses on three challenging areas families face during Christmas: giving and receiving presents, managing overstimulation and excitement, and understanding routine changes.

1. Present Giving and Receiving – The excitement of getting presents can be overwhelming for children. Help them understand polite giving and receiving of gifts with these strategies.

Involve Children in Giving – Let children help choose and wrap presents. By participating in the gift giving process, children become interested in seeing other people’s reaction to the present. Even young children can choose between two presents, wrap it up and decide where it should go under the tree.

Practice Receiving – Role play receiving a present and thanking someone for it. Make writing thank you cards part of your family routine so that children understand how to thank people politely for presents.

2. Festive Energy – Christmas celebrations often mean sugary foods and late bedtimes. Use the strategies below to manage energy levels and make bedtime more successful.

Keep Children Active – Playing games outside during the day can help children use their energy in a healthy and positive way. Keep children active during the day so they will be tired at night making bedtime easier.

Limit Sweets – Sugary foods and drinks are everywhere and plentiful during over Christmas and New Year. These foods are high not just in sugar, but also in caffeine. They cause children to be overly active and make falling asleep difficult. Set guidelines about how much and when these foods can be consumed and provide healthy alternatives.

Try to keep a sleep routine – Even when children are not at school, a consistent sleep schedule is important. Ensure that children wake up and go to bed at a regular time. Plan morning events such as shopping to motivate children to wake up and get ready for the day.

3. Holiday Routine Changes – Many children benefit from consistent routines and have difficulty with change. Make holiday routine changes less stressful with these simple tips.

Use Visual interventions – Have a holiday wall chart that lists events in writing, drawing, or picture format depending on the child’s level of understanding and needs. Refer to the wall chart to prepare children for the day’s events and help them understand what is going on and when.

Involve Children – Let children add new events to the wall chart. If there are important events the family must attend, explain why attending is important. If there are events that are debatable, include children’s input in decisions about attending the event.

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