Navigating Routine Changes During the Holidays
The holidays are a time of magic, love and joy, but they can also bring stress and anxiety to little ones as they navigate changes in their routine. To prepare your little one (and yourself) for the holidays, use the following teacher tips to help support schedule changes this season.
1. Make a holiday calendar or checklist
Providing your child with visual tools is a helpful way to allow them to understand the upcoming holiday routine. Make a holiday calendar together with your little one and give a preview of each event as you add the dates. Place the calendar in a space that is easily accessible for your child to allow them time to review it often and ask questions. Make a holiday checklist to give your child the opportunity to take control of new situations. Children love checklists and calendars because they clearly lay out what will happen in the future. It is difficult for young children to adapt to surprises, so by knowing what is coming up, or previewing, it allows them to more smoothly transition through and enjoy new experiences.
2. Communicate expectations
Communicate the expectations of upcoming holiday situations with your child. This can include both the expectations you have for them, and those in place for yourself. Let them know what is about to happen, who will be there, and how you will all be expected to behave during each event. If it is a holiday meal, let them know what they can choose to eat and how long they are expected to sit at the table. When visiting family and friends, remind them that everyone has their own rules and that all of you collectively will follow the rules of that house or event venue. By navigating expectations and events together, your familial bonds will strengthen and grow.
3. Follow your child’s lead
Following your child’s cues and allowing them to lead in certain situations is invaluable in making them feel comfortable and heard this holiday season. If they are feeling shy, patiently allow them time. If they need to be active, provide the opportunity to burn off energy to prevent behavior that might not be appropriate in every setting. If they are tired or hungry, address these issues proactively to prevent meltdowns. If they are feeling overwhelmed, remove them from the situation to give space to breathe and calm themselves. Understand the challenges presented to them during this exciting time and give them the support needed to enjoy every experience!
4. Use comfort objects
Providing comfort objects can ease the stress of new situations and schedule changes during the holidays. By bringing along favorite toys, blankets, snacks and water bottles you can provide a thread of consistency during chaotic moments. It is comforting for children to use things that are familiar and beloved, and these objects can help soothe tired or excited minds and bodies. By consistently providing these cherished items no matter where you are this holiday season, children will have something expected as a touchstone while experiencing so much of the unexpected.
Remember that when little ones deviate from their normal routines, feelings of anxiety can arise that they don’t understand or cannot process alone. Help support them and make the holidays run smoothly by communicating with your child and providing hands-on tools. Use patience when dealing with any big feelings that might come up and remember that children take their cues from trusted adults, so model calm energy in times of stress. Above all, allow yourself to enjoy the celebrations of the season and your child will happily follow along!
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Hi, I'm Miss Amanda!
Amanda has spent most of her life developing groundbreaking curriculum for the youngest children, dedicating her time to working at Playgarden Prep's Upper East Side program while also leading the Playgarden Online team with her 20+ years of experience in leading multidisciplinary groups of early learning specialists. She is an educator and specialist in all things early learning, with a passion for making sure that Playgarden's curriculum is in line with the most up-to-date educational research. She helped to co-found Playgarden in 2007 alongside Carlos and Valeska, and also co-founded Playgarden Online when the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic began. Originally from California, Amanda enjoys spending time with her three wonderful children in their Upper East Side neighborhood.