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Holiday Tips

November 26, 2019 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Susan Shor

With holidays here already, life becomes more frenetic. Many people thrive on the excitement, family, parties, and big meals, but children who have autism, sensory issues, or just plain need routine, this time of year can add extra strain.

Here are a few things to keep in mind to maintain your holiday joy and also give your children what they need.

1. They aren’t doing it on purpose.

This seems so obvious, but it’s not. I know. When you are running around, listening to honking horns, or trying to organize a meal for 16 and your child is acting out, remember that acting out is a symptom of something they can’t express or don’t even understand is bothering them. As a parent with a sensitive child, you have to stay preternaturally calm (I know, so hard) and play detective.

2. Give them plenty of warning.

Don’t spring things on them. Let them know what’s happening ahead of time. Be as detailed as you can. Make a visual schedule, if they like that. Then check items off together. Consider a seating chart.

3. Build in downtime.

Your child is not insulting you or anyone else if they need to leave the table or the big family celebration. Even adults sometimes need to get away from the fray. Build breaks into your schedule. Make sure you let your child know that excusing themselves to go to a quiet, safe place is OK. Develop a signal that you can use if you feel your child needs a break, but hasn’t yet realized that. Remember, children are not that self-aware. Transitions during meals or before and after them make for good times for a child to slip away for a few minutes without it becoming a fuss.

4. Assign your child a job

Sometimes, being involved and busy helps. Your child can focus on a task and feel proud of an accomplishment. Try to make the task a familiar one instead of adding something new during a stressful time. What chores or tasks does your child do regularly? If they clear their plate after dinner, consider asking them to help with that job. Practice with family meals beforehand.

5. If you’re a guest: Ask for accommodations

No, you can’t expect the world to revolve around your child, but you can  explain what your child needs and accomplish some of what is on this list anyway. If you are staying local, can you bring your child over to practice and set up a safe space? Even if you are traveling (a different set of issues I will tackle later), see if you can get a heads up on the schedule or pictures of the holiday setup. Any preparation you can give your child will help.

6. Remember … things happen

No matter how prepared you are, no matter how much everyone understands and loves your children, something may go wrong. The hardest thing you will have to do is learn this: Don’t sweat it. You and your children are doing the best you can and the people who love you know that. You are probably harder on yourself than any of them will ever be.

Now relax and enjoy the holidays.

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The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.