The holidays can be a lot of fun, but they can also bring an added element of stress. Experts with OU Physicians say there are things you can do to help ensure a peaceful holiday for your family.
"It really starts with taking care of yourself," said Noel Jacobs, Ph.D., OU Children's Physicians psychologist. "When you are tired and worn out, it impacts you and your children. On the other hand, when you are at your best, you are also better able to handle whatever comes up with your kids."
The holidays are especially tough on the family schedule. So Jacobs suggests trying to find a "new normal" schedule at home and away with a bedtime goal that helps ensure children don't get too far off from their regular schedule.
"If you plan to be up late with the grown-ups, then work out a deal with other adults in the family to be up early with the kids," he said.
Here are some other tips from Jacobs and OU Children's Physicians to help you keep the peace over the holidays:
• If you travel by car or plane, take small toys, books and games to occupy them and to help the time go faster.
• Try to give children an idea of what's going to happen each day if you can. Many children do better when they can predict and prepare for the day's activities.
• Watch for signs of fatigue or overstimulation. All children (and many adults) get overwhelmed with excitement, rush and sensory experiences, and need a break for some soothing and quiet time.
• Plan "down time" each day instead of packing the whole day with driving, seeing new people and doing exciting things (especially for little ones).
• Plan your own response ahead of time for "meltdowns"; stay calm and give the child a place to calm down.
• Avoid correcting (especially "loud" correcting) your child in front of large groups or other children. Take them aside or into another room and talk quietly.
• Limit technology – it over stimulates the sensory parts of the brain and causes its own fatigue.
• Give children some time just to be with you and be calm – read a book to them or play a quiet game away from crowds and noise
"Remember, your children are still great kids. They're just under stress at busy times such as the holidays just like you are," Jacobs said.
For more information about ensuring a healthy holiday for the entire family, visit a special web page with helpful topics ranging from avoiding illness to dodging weight gain during the holidays at www.OUMedicine.com/HolidayHealth
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