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Holiday stress and meltdowns

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

The holidays are magical. The holidays are wonderful. The holidays are…stressful.

There tends to be a lot of pressure for parents this time of year. Families are already busy, and then, on top of that, you now feel pressure to create memorable holiday magic.

Here’s something to think about:

Looking back on your own childhood, what do you remember most? Specific gifts? Perfect cookies? Parents feeling stressed?

What do you want your kids to remember? To focus on?

Are there things you’re doing that you could skip? Are there things you do that bring you joy during this season?

Consider trying to enjoy and celebrate the holidays more by doing less. I really mean this. Focus on what you or your family truly enjoys and consider skipping the rest. Think about what is important to your family, maybe because it brings someone joy, or alines with your family values, and skip. the. rest. It has been a long and hard year (or two) and you deserve a break. If the idea of skipping the rest seems too hard, find one thing to ditch this year. Try it out as an experiment.

Remember, as stressful as the holidays are for you, the holidays can be just as stressful for your kids, too. In fact, meltdowns are much more prevalent during the holidays. So, just as you think you’ve pulled together some successful holiday magic, cue the meltdown from your little one. So what can you do to prevent a meltdown?

One of the most helpful things you can do is prepare your child for what is to come. There are days during the holidays that have a much different schedule than kids are used to, and when kids have an understanding of what is coming, it can be a game changer.

Prepare your child for the schedule, expectations and feelings that may come around this time of year.

Share with them the details about what’s going to happen. If you have certain expectations for them, be direct about that, and you can even practice in advance. Here’s something that we don’t think about much: you can prep your child for the hard or tricky feelings that may come up (and remember, all of those feelings are okay!). Maybe you know your child will struggle and feel jealous when their cousins open up Christmas presents. Taking away the surprise of that emotion, naming it and even practicing feeling it can be so helpful.

The holidays can be wonderful and also stressful at the same time, for you and your child. Just don’t forget the hot chocolate.

Speaking of holiday magic and reducing stress, let’s rethink the Elf on the Shelf this year. The Elf on the Shelf can be a really fun part of the holidays, but read more about ways it can do more harm than good here.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Kate

p.s., check out some gift ideas here. Some will help develop emotionally intelligent kids, and some are just fun!

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