The holidays can be both a fun and stressful time for many families.
This is especially true if you have a child who needs extra support and consistency on a daily basis.
As a pediatric therapy clinic, we know how complex that can be.
But even if you don’t have a child with special needs, the holidays can be complicated.
However, there are some little things you can do at home during the holiday season to decrease everyone’s stress levels.
Let’s take a closer look at some things you can do to help your family stay calm during a season that can be full of stress.
Why Is Christmas So Stressful?
Ever since you yourself were a kid, you’ve probably heard that Christmas is a season of joy.
And this is true, Christmas can be quite joyful.
You have family to look forward to seeing, good food to eat, and gifts to give and receive.
But for some people, Christmas can actually be a time of stress, disappointment, loneliness, and anxiety.
The message of Christmas joy also comes with high expectations.
Celebrations are expected to be perfect, with happy families and luxurious gifts.
But it can be difficult to live up to these ideals.
This can cause a significant amount of stress and even guilt.
Perhaps money is tighter this year than usual.
Perhaps you’ve recently lost loved ones, making this year’s festivities more bittersweet.
You might want to be able to give your child the best Christmas ever, but that can’t always happen.
Add this to the regular stresses of daily life you’re already feeling, and this can be overwhelming.
And unfortunately, when you’re stressed, your child is likely to pick up on it.
How Does My Stress Affect My Child?
Children are very perceptive, and it’s likely that your child will be able to pick up on your stress during the holiday season.
Because your children are still developing, they’re actually more susceptible to stress than you are.
When you have lots of stress over the course of the holiday season and your child picks up on it, it can in turn cause them to experience anxiety and challenges in controlling their moods.
Sometimes it’s not just your stress that they pick up on, either.
The holidays can be a big change in routine for children.
Your child doesn’t have the daily structure of school and extracurricular activities they’re used to.
Sometimes they’ll be meeting family that they hardly know.
Even the excitement of gifts can be stressful and overwhelming for some children.
But it can be true of neurotypical children as well.
So if your child does get stressed, try not to be too hard on yourself.
It may be because you are stressed, but it may also be due to any number of stressors that children experience during the holidays.
How To Reduce Holiday Stress For Your Child
When you’re already stressed, it can be hard to figure out how to help your child with their own stress.
However, there are some things you can keep in mind to help with this as you go into the holiday season.
1. First Of All, Manage Your Own Stress
Managing your own stress can be easier said than done, but it’s the most important thing for you to remember this holiday season.
Make sure you’re able to set aside time for yourself, including eating properly and sleeping enough.
Set expectations with your partner or trusted friends so they know to encourage you to take breaks when it seems like you need them.
Most importantly, remember you can say no to things.
You don’t have to go to your second cousin’s house if you don’t want to, and you don’t need to go to every single holiday rehearsal that your nieces and nephews are in.
2. Make Sure Your Child Has Realistic Expectations
Children’s excitement for Christmas can sometimes make their expectations run rampant.
After all, they know that there will be an abundance of chocolate, that they’ll be getting lots of gifts, and that they have two weeks off school to do whatever they want.
To them, it seems like the possibilities are endless.
Sometimes, if something doesn’t go according to the expectations they’ve set in their head, your child can become upset or disappointed, which can cause stress in the whole family.
The best thing you can do is manage their expectations.
Let them know roughly what each week might look like, what parameters have been set on gift giving, and what relatives and friends they can expect to see and when.
Having an idea of what will happen will leave less to the imagination and create less stress for everyone.
3. Keep Your Child’s Routine As Similar As Possible
When your children are in school, they likely have set bedtimes and mealtimes.
During the holidays, it’s important to do your best to stick to that.
It might be tempting to listen to their requests and let them stay up late to ride out their sugar highs, but other than special occasions like New Years’ it’s best if they stick to their routines.
4. Create Space For Quality Family Time
The holiday season provides a great opportunity for you to spend some family time with your kids since they aren’t in school all day.
Try to plan activities you can do as a family to make sure you bond and keep the stress levels down.
For example, making Christmas cookies or gingerbread houses, going to the museum, or having a family game night.
You can also make sure some of the toys you give your children for Christmas can be used for this sort of quality time.
5. Practice Gratitude
In a season where there’s a lot of stress placed on giving the best gifts and having extravagant parties, consider practicing gratitude for all the things you have.
It’s an excellent example to set for your children, and they can even participate.
This can be as simple as taking the time every night to say one thing you’re thankful for.
It can also look like donating gently used toys and clothes, donating money, or buying toys for a toy drive.
Book Your Appointment With Little Feet Pediatric Therapy Today
If your child struggles with routine changes or the uncertainty of the holiday season, we can help with that.
Here at Little Feet Pediatric Therapy, we offer a variety of different therapies for children that can help them grow to become the best versions of themselves, including:
- Pediatric occupational therapy
- Pediatric physical therapy
- Sensory integration pediatric therapy
- Custom orthotics and toddler wheelchair fitting
- Early intervention pediatric therapy
- And more
Book your appointment with Little Feet Pediatric Therapy today.
► 3535 Randolph Rd, Charlotte, NC 28211
► 1331 H St NW Ste 200, Washington, DC 20005
► St. Louis, MO
► Raleigh, NC
Founded in 2019, Little Feet Therapy offers on site pediatric physical and occupational therapy treatments for children from 2 months to 18 years old with physical and developmental concerns. Our clinics focus on providing therapy in a child’s natural setting where your child is in familiar surroundings, it puts their mind at ease and helps them focus more on the work they’re doing with their pediatric therapist. Our therapists will work with your child at your home, at school, at daycare, or another place in the community where they feel most comfortable.