Big Feelings During The Winter Holiday Season: 6 tips to support your child
Can you feel the anticipation? Are you feeling Energized? Stressed? Joyful? You may be feeling these emotions or a host of others with the arrival of the holiday season, the impending winter break, and the start to a new year (can you believe it's about to be 2022 😲?).
This time of year can often feel like a heavy lift filled with high expectations. Are those expectations coming from yourself? Your children? Extended family? Friends? Social media? Where ever those expectations are coming from, maybe it's time to take some of the pressure off and make the holidays more about calm, recharge, gratitude, and connection.
The hustle and bustle to do all the things, and see all the people, can put pressure on us. These feelings will inevitably project on to our children, which will certainly effect their emotions. Our children are also experiencing their own feelings about the holiday season and the winter break off from their regular routines. With all that is looming, your child may be showing over-excitement, anxiety, or extra silliness. These emotions might be coming out as behaviors during a time when you hoped to see their very "best" behavior.
Here are my top 6 things that you can do to support your child through this BIG FEELINGS time of the year.
1. Routine: Try as best as possible to stick to sleeping and eating routines. I know, the occasional late nights with family movies or game nights do happen - but try not making it a daily thing. While school might not be in session over the winter break, your child's brain is continuing to develop and grow each and every day. They need ample sleep, healthy foods, and hydration. Routines support a positive and secure home environment any day of the year.
2. Check-in: This is a really great opportunity to ask your child how they are feeling. Open up communication and check-in on their feelings about home, school, and friends. What are their hopes for the new year ahead? Reflect back on the year past, what are they most proud of? Winter break will hopefully give you ample time together, so please take this important opportunity to connect!
3. Communicate: Do your best to communicate expectations for the holidays and winter break. What do you expect your child to do and contribute? Household chores? Choosing gifts for family? Wrapping presents? Organizing? Projects?
4. Family time: Connect as a family. Play games, watch movies, craft, hike, bake, cook, play catch - whatever your family enjoys, find time to do it! In our home, our children enjoy writing a "winter break family list". They post it up on the wall in the kitchen and it helps guide our two weeks home together. The list contains small, simple things that we can do in our home, neighborhood, or in the local area. We do not make it too big as to not overwhelm ourselves to complete it.
5. Giving: Giving comes in many forms including: time, talents, voice, and funds. This is a great opportunity for families to find ways to support others. Card making, warm coat drive, food drive, visiting an animal shelter, standing up for a cause - the list goes on and on. Discuss together what each of you are passionate about and find what's right for your family. 'Tis the season of giving!
6. Self-care: Everyone in the family will need time for self-care. Be sure to find time for calm, relaxation, and restoration. Make this a priority for yourself and support your child in getting the same; build in this precious time for each of you. Self-care will positively support mental, physical, and emotional health for your entire family.
One last important thought - Your holiday traditions do not need to match up to anyone else's and it is perfectly okay to change up your traditions if that's what is best for your family. Do what you and your family need to do.
I hope that you and your family are able to find the magic, the calm, and the family time during this winter season.
With Gratitude and Encouragement!