- Have a timetable displayed so children can see what will be happening, what day is visiting family, what day are family or friends coming to the house, what day is the Christmas fair, when do the decorations go up and come down, when is back to school. The more predictable you can make the holiday, the less stressful it will be.
- If your child has asked for a gift that you have no intentions in getting them, just let them know that they won’t be getting that gift. “We will see” is a stressful phrase for an anxious child.
- If necessary remind family members that your child may become overwhelmed and need a little quiet time, they need to not take it personally. Maybe have a pre-arranged safe zone that your child can retreat to if visiting someone else’s house. Maybe even have a safe phrase that they can say if they need help to regulate, this is good for older children who may not wish to talk about their feelings in front of others. You can pre-agree that if they come to you and ask for a drink of milk, for example, and you will give them a reason to come away from a situation safely.
- Why have a fight over traditional Christmas dinner if they would rather eat chicken nuggets? Christmas, after all, is about enjoying being together. It must be better to have your child eating nuggets happily at the table whilst everyone else eats their traditional meal rather than having a meltdown over a change of diet. One less person to fight over a turkey leg!
- Try, if possible, to keep bedtime routine the same. Obviously, the time may be later due to events going on but by sticking to the same routine you are providing some comfort and normality in what can be a very confusing time of the year.
Have a wonderful and relaxing Christmas doing what works for your own family, remember Facebook and other social media is everyone’s highlight reel. I can assure you that those houses also had tears, tantrums, and children up at 3am.