The holiday season can be a wonderful time for young children and for those who care for them. The festivities and traditions take on a magical quality when seen through the eyes of a child.
But as we all know, the holidays can also be a stressful and challenging time. Extra treats, later bedtimes, parties, presents, and travel can be disruptive to normal family rhythms. Many parents and caregivers also experience extra financial and family strain during this season.
With these realities in mind, how can we take the "The Basics" (5 fun, simple, powerful ways that to help all our children become the happiest and most successful they can be) and weave them into both the celebrations and the challenges of the holiday season?
Here are 4 simple ways:
1. Maximize Love
Regardless of what holiday tradition your family celebrates, the best present you can give your child is your presence.
Your young child needs your hugs and kisses, your bedtime snuggles, and your voice. Our consumer culture convinces us that we need the latest and greatest toys and experiences, but all a young child truly needs is consistent love and care.
2. Manage Stress
This is easier said than done, right? Remember that caring for young children is already a full-time job! This is definitely a stage of life when it's always best to simplify.
- Store-bought desserts instead of homemade are just fine for the holiday party.
- Remember that less is more with young children. They are easily distracted and overwhelmed. Keep treats and toys to a minimum so they can really enjoy the gifts of the season!
- Keep normal routines as much as possible. Kids will enjoy the holidays more if they are well-rested and so will you!
- Know your limits and your child's. It's nearly impossible to please everyone. If others' expectations of you are more than you can handle, it's okay to say no or offer an alternative.
- When stress is unavoidable, take steps to cope effectively. This may look like finding a trusted caregiver for your child if you need a break, walking away from a tantrum for a minute to take deep breaths, finding someone you trust who can help or listen, or going for a walk.
3. Turn family moments into learning moments.
The great thing about The Basics is that they become part of everyday life!
Talk, Sing and Point as you take in the sights and sounds of the season. If you're traveling, point out new things you see through the window.
Practice Counting, Grouping and Comparing with the unique holiday items and foods you have around your home. If you're doing extra baking, let your child help with counting and measuring in the kitchen.
Explore through Movement and Play as a way to run off extra energy (and sugar.) If weather permits, take a 30 minute break and go to the park or take a walk.
The holidays are also a great time to enjoy fun indoor games together!
Read and Discuss Stories by picking up some books about your family's holiday from the library. There are so many wonderful seasonal books for young children!
4. Pay attention to the stress of those around you.
We all have a part to play in the well-being of the young children in our own communities. If you see or know of parents who are under too much stress during this season, offer to help. When we step in to lighten someone's load, we're not only helping the parent, we're helping the children who depend on that parent to provide love and stability.
The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!
Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:
- Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are "Maximizing Love & Managing Stress" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
- Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
- Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
- If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!