The holidays begin! All the fun of baking, decorating, traveling, traditions, family and friends is great but often overwhelming. We love the holiday season, but most of us are just as ready for things to slow down after the holidays and get back to normal. Our children are no different.
My holiday advice to you is to stay mindful of your own feelings, energy level and stressors and how it affects your behaviors and your interactions with others. Do what you need to do to regulate even in this busy season to meet your own needs. Your needs will be a variety of wanting love, solitude, fun and stability. Be conscious and ask yourself what you need to feel present and regulated right now and do it. You may not have the luxury of changing your schedule, but you can quickly refresh yourself by doing some deep breathing for a minute or two, give yourself some positive affirmations, drop your shoulders and relax your muscles.
When you are mindful of your own emotions, you can help your child with his regulation during the holidays. Kids have notorious big behaviors during the holidays, if you don’t believe me, just browse the internet for funny/not funny Santa pictures with unsmiling children. Your own children have the same problems you do in shifting through different emotions and trying to stay present and regulated. Stay attuned to your child’s needs and ask the same questions that you asked yourself about what your child needs right now. See past the child’s behaviors and see what he needs from you to feel safe and regulated. Remember behavior is communication. It’s true for you, and it’s true for your child.
If your family is not your child’s first family and he came to you through adoption, foster care or a blended family, be particularly conscious that the holidays have different context for your child and may trigger memories that are unpleasant or sad. Be attuned to your child who may need more regulation and felt safety at this time. Meet your child’s needs with compassion and regulation. It is easier to do when you can see past the behavior and see that the root cause is fear, or simply being tired or hungry. They will be able to mirror your own regulation if you are in a calm place to begin with. If you are not regulated in your own body, it will be hard for your child to feel calm.
If you need some ideas of how to build in family connection times you can read my previous post about that here.
Enjoy the season with your family!