It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Shopping for gifts, decorating the house, baking goodies, attending parties, visiting family…there are so many fun and exciting things to do. With all these wonderful events, who wouldn’t be happy all the time? Unfortunately, children and especially children with any type of sensory processing disorder. Therefore, parents should stay on top of the parenting game instead of giving into a laxer parenting style during the season.
The holidays should be a time of joy but with all the colorful lights, delicious scents, sweet treats, entertaining sounds, and things to play with, sensory overload is in full effect. Routines are upended and are replaced by parties, errands, and late nights. The magical stuff becomes chaos and children are expected to be on their best behavior. Adults have a hard enough time maintaining their sanity with all of this so why should children be expected to?
The anticipation of time off from school, presents, cookies, and more gets children excited. They begin the holiday season with happiness and cheer, but they quickly become exhausted and cranky from the over-stimulation in the environment. Even the most laid-back children get overwhelmed. Handling all of this is even more difficult for younger children and ones that are already challenge by sensory stimuli on a regular basis. The extra stimuli can cause children to be more reactive in situations and behavior issues may result.
These behavior issues often arise due to unclear rules, unrealistic expectations, and schedule changes. Parents often assume that because the holiday season is “magical,” their children will automatically behave. Sadly, this is not the case. When children misbehave during the holidays, many parents resort to shouting, threatening to call Santa, or taking presents away. And yes, parents may win but everyone ends up feeling terrible.
In order to set children up for success during the holiday season, it is wise to keep some routines in place such as snack times and bedtimes and try to schedule only one holiday event each day. It is also good to let children help with things, so they feel like they are a part of it all. It’s also essential that parents give their children attention in the midst of all the hustle and bustle. One of the best ways to make parenting during the holidays the most successful is by utilizing the eight Parenting SKILLZ that were developed by SKILLZ founder, Melody Johnson.
The holidays should be a joyful time of year and to keep things magical, it is vital to maintain some sort of schedule and catch children being good when they are in the middle of all the disorder. Being patient and adaptable and being attuned to children’s needs are just a few of the things for parents to do. Creating meaningful connections and being consistent will help children feel more secure and happy throughout the holiday season.