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As we enter into November we find ourselves sitting on the edge of the holiday season. Before we know it Thanksgiving will be here and then four weeks later Winter Break is upon us.
Some people look forward to this time of year and some feel a sense of trepidation. There is usually a shift in normal routines and an increase in social gatherings. Regardless of how you feel about the holiday season most of us find our stress levels creeping up.. Here are a few tips to help ease you and your family into the next couple months.
Trips to the park, play dates, baking and art projects, can not only provide more structure to your day but also give you some quality time with your little one.
If you need ideas for projects or games you can google “activities for children" or more specifically "activities for (enter child's age) children" (for ex: activities for preschool age children) and find a variety to choose from.
A. Others may not understand if your child has different needs.
You can help with this by letting your family and friends know ahead of time what behaviors they might expect and how you will be working with your child in these instances.
B. Children may have a hard time with the difference in schedule and the new people they might be coming in contact with. This can lead to grumpiness, tantrums or even hyperactivity.
Prepare your little one by creating a social story about an upcoming event (ex: if you are going to Thanksgiving dinner at a family members house, tell a story about where you are going, who will be there, what one does at dinner and what will happen while you are there). Share this story often before the big day.
If you will be seeing relatives/friends your child doesn’t know or doesn’t often see, it can be helpful to share photos and names with your child for several days before an event. This helps your child be more informed about an unfamiliar situation and can make the transition easier.
C.. Being in a different environment and being offered different foods can also cause upsets for your child.
Come to gatherings armed with a backpack full of things you might need; familiar snacks, a favorite comfort item like a blanket or toy, activities your child likes to do (a few cars, blocks or crayons can go a long way), and an extra, comfy, change of clothes.
Schedule some down time for yourself. Whether it’s five minutes or a few hours remember that even parents need a break sometimes. The better you feel the more available you will be for your child.
Enlist help! You don’t have to do it all alone. If you are going to someone’s house for dinner and you know you might need help with your child, talk to a family member or friend beforehand and set up a plan for what you might need. Preparedness is one of the keys to preventing a stressful situation.
Emily Morrison is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Sonoma County California. She has a private practice in downtown Santa Rosa.