Posts Tagged ‘holiday stress’

Prevent Holiday Tantrums and Meltdowns at ANY Age

December 4th, 2012

The holidays are a very exciting and stimulating time of year, and regardless of your age you may find yourself overwhelmed, exhausted, and ready to meltdown from stress. Now imagine you are a child with limited control and resources to express and manage your stress. No wonder this time of the year can be overwhelming for kids and adults alike! Here are 4 ways to prevent holiday tantrums and meltdowns at any age:

 

  1. Overstimulation is… overstimulating! Running around from store to store and from activity to activity is exhausting for everyone, especially children who are sensitive to the environment or have sensory issues. All those bright lights and loud stores are enough to unnerve anyone.  Know your child’s limitations and don’t ask them to go beyond what they are capable of doing. Instead, arrange a play date, ask a relative to help out, have your spouse watch the kids as you go and take care of shopping or last minute details.
  2. Kids don’t always have the words to tell you. When children are exhausted and overwhelmed they don’t always have the awareness or ability to let you know that they are at their limit. Heck, even as adults we can easily minimize our spouse/partner when they say that they have had enough and need a break…”Oh but there are a few more things we’ve GOT to get done”! Listen to your child, look at their body cues, and help them identify when they need a break. By helping your child understand and positively express their limits you can avoid the meltdowns and tantrums, especially the public ones that leave you wanting to sneak out of the store from embarrassment.
  3. Get back to basics: Wacky schedules, too much sugar, not enough exercise will lead to mood dysreguation.  Keep a daily schedule with regular bedtimes and use a whiteboard to add special events.  Limit all those holiday sweets. A simple rule of 1 sweet a day can help diffuse the arguments over cookies and candy.  If your child drinks soda, it may be time to choose a natural soda or limit the amount of soda. Clean out the cupboards of salty snacks, toss the ice cream and other sugars, and get outside and exercise.  Head to the local YMCA, join a sport, or just get outside. Exercise helps reduce stress and regulate mood (and helps with anxiety and depression).
  4. Pick and choose what’s important. What do you want your holiday memories to be like? If you are trying to pack everything holiday into 4 weeks you’ll be creating memories, for sure, but they may not be the memories you would like your child to remember!

 

CQ Playful Creative Activity:           

 

Here’s a creative activity to help you choose what’s important for your family. Take a few minutes and some deep breaths then find some magazines (or just get paper and pen/pencils/markers).  Choose a few words that reflect what you would like this holiday season to be remembered as. Write those words or cut the words out from magazines and paste onto paper. Then write down all of the things you believe you “should” do over the holidays on a separate piece of paper.  Look at your list of things to do and remove activities that do not align with the words you desire to create. This can be an empowering activity for the whole family, to help your family choose what’s important (and not so much) for the holidays.

Set your child up for success by joining the International Parents & Professionals Community December support call with guest expert Deborah McNelis on  the topic of “Brain Insights: Make a Positive Difference for Children!” You’ll get access to positive and practical strategies to help your child develop a healthy brain.

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Stress-free holiday: Don’t be fooled by these holiday myths

December 13th, 2011

Stress-free holiday, is it possible?

There are myths about the holiday that have been ingrained in our belief systems that stem from family narratives, media portrayals, and influences from those around us. Sadly, you will feel overwhelmed, stressed out, not good enough, and flat out frazzled if you buy into these beliefs. So for your own personal well-being, and the emotional health of those around you, I uncover the top four holiday myths.

1. It needs to be perfect-
I was watching TV and Christmas Vacation, the movie, came on. I hadn’t seen it since the 80’s, so I watched and laughed out loud at all the silliness in the movie. What I found interesting is that “Clark”, the dad, was so focused on having a perfect Christmas, with the “perfect” lighting display, that he lost sight of his imperfect family. Do you do that? Get all caught up in the shoulds, how things should look, how the kids should behave, how the holiday should go. When you create high expectation and try to control the outcome you are truly setting yourself up for being disappointed.

2. You must go to everything you are invited to-
There are so many events and parties this time of year, it is impossible to keep up with it all- nor should you!  It is healthy to set boundaries and say NO, and by doing this you can model it for your children. Here’s something simple you can do: Pick one or two events/party, per person, during the holidays. So, outside of school performances, you can ask your child what 1 thing they want to go to, and schedule it. For yourself and your spouse pick 1-2 that are important. If you are fearful of disappointing someone or hurting their feelings, let them know that you and you family have created a new tradition, and you are honoring that.

3. You should be with family, no matter what-
Let’s all be real here, there are family members who are not healthy to be around. They make choices and say things you don’t agree with. These toxic people are hard to deal with when you are in a good healthy emotional space. However, during the holidays most people are not in a good healthy state, instead they are running on empty, trying to get it all done. Of course when you are depleted it’s harder to act rational, not be reactive, and keep your sanity. If you are going to choose to be around unhealthy family members set boundaries. You can decide to meet them out for lunch, so you can be there and leave if they start to act in a way that’s offensive. You can limit your exposure by visiting them, so you are in control of how long you stay, or you can use this as an opportunity to let them know because of ______, you feel ________, and you are asking them to _____________.

4. You have too high expectations of other people’s behaviors-
Similar to perfectionism, having high expectations for other people’s behavior during this time of the year is unrealistic. Adults are stressed and children are over stimulated and excited, so expecting others to act a certain way or for things to go a certain way will cause you unnecessary worry and stress. This time of year expect more melt-downs and acting out from those around you if you are focusing on doing so much and trying to have everything be “just right”.

During this time of year many people need more support, schedule a complimentary consultation by clicking here.

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How to keep your sanity during the holidays

December 5th, 2011
holiday family

photo by David Castillo Dominici

It’s the holidays and the stress of the year is upon you. All that crazy frenetic, “doing”, busy, energy, of rushing around not only impacts you, but your children too. Yup! So if you want to stay sane, you need to physically slow down. I know that may not be so easy with all the things you’ve got going on. So if you can’t stop the rush of the “going”, you can slow down physiologically. Simply put, we can slow down our body responses and here’s a simple way to do it. Take a minute, while you’re in the airport, before you walk into the mall, or a stressful family event. Before you act you can slow down your heart rate and breathing, which will make you feel more calm (and less reactive when problems arise).

So take a minute and imagine tensing up all the parts of your body, starting from the top of head, all the way down to your feet. Tense and tighten everything and hold for the count of ten, then exhale and release. Do this three times in a row and you’ll be feeling more relaxed for sure. Best part is you can do this with your kids too.

If you are traveling with the kids pack up some fun small activities, such as travel games, coloring books, Mad Libs, small package of model magic, and comic books. Kids need down time too so they can self-regulate. A final tip to keep your sanity- say “no thank you”. It’s simple, yet oh so effective.

Having problems at home and need more support? These parenting resources will help your children and teen.

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