Parents try to live a fairytale during the holidays. Many parents believe that if you spend enough money, put up enough lights, bake enough cookies and attend enough fun activities that the holidays will be bliss and full of enough great memories to last a lifetime. Yeah, right!
It’s easy to debunk that philosophy with a short visit to the mall. Grab a cup of coffee and find a seat in a busy section of the mall. It won’t take long for the parade of frustrated moms and dads to rush past. They will probably be dragging fussing children who are ready to have a meltdown at the next intersection. If the parents were smart enough to hire a sitter, they still lack smiling faces or nod a happy greeting to those they meet.
So what’s wrong? Why is it that parents go out of their way to be good to their children and yet there is a tidal wave of irritated, depressed, out of control families? Is it possible to have a “wonderful and happy” holiday season?
Let’s check a Decoder Map and look for details. (Double click on the image to enlarge)
All the facts I’ve listed on the left pertain to parents and adults. All the facts I’ve listed on the right pertain to children.
Is it any wonder that children seem to melt down more during the holidays? What can parents do?
1. Slow down. Even if it means eliminating some things in your schedule. Slow down and make sure that your children are eating and sleeping properly.
2. Don’t fuss. Think outside the box and find ways to make “structure” just as fun as participating in the Christmas rush. Play games. Games like “Santa eats broccoli”. I invented this simple game to help my children eat “healthy” foods during the holidays. I explained that Santa expects us to eat one healthy item per day. If we do that, he has a special gift set aside for those children. I chose a small inexpensive gift that was included in their stocking.
3. Be understanding. Little legs have to double time it to keep up with tall Daddy’s. Running at full pace makes little bodies tired. Shopping for Uncle Joe may seem like only minutes to you but can seem like hours to a child. Learning extra information for plays and programs may be easy for an adult and very difficult for a child.
4. Keep your main goal front and center in all that you do. What should that goal be? To show your family that you love them. To help everyone feel like they belong and that they can always find a smile on your face and joy in your heart. If that means dropping traditions that cause irritations – don’t be afraid to let go.
5. Go through each arm of your decoder map and ask yourself how you can “creatively” solve that problem. For example, when my toddlers were afraid of older relatives that they only saw once a year at Christmas reunions – I helped them relax by having a small toy or a small amount of candy for the relative to give them. It created an interaction between the two that helped ease the relationship and foster “playful” situations.
Make your attitude your gift to your family and you’ll always have the merriest Christmas of all!