As the holiday season approaches, I think back on my childhood. Holidays were always a crazy time of year, and yet it was also a very enjoyable time spent together. As I ponder deeper, I think about the previous kids I have taught and their parents confiding in me about the crazy the season is between the school parties, family, friends, and the day-to-day activities. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you and your family in preparing for the holidays.
Prior to the event:
#1 – Talk About the Holidays:
What’s the day going to look like, who will be there, and what are the rules? Some children need more of a heads up than others to relieve their anxiety of the excitement. Maybe your child needs a visual schedule or a written list with times of when things will occur. If your child is already using a schedule, keep it up during the holidays. It is okay if there are surprises that come up. Talk about when the surprises come, and why. If they need support for these changes, be there for them. This will help reduce any meltdowns.
#2 – Do a Calendar Countdown:
Have a calendar or number countdown until the special day. The child will know when to anticipate the event by keeping this record. He or she can be excited about it but still know when it is coming.
#3 – Table Time Activities:
Need a way to get things done while your kids are busy? Having a craft, writing, or fine motor activity for the kids to do at the table will allow them to be creative and engaged while you get things done. Tell them they have 30 minutes to stay at the table to create something wonderful.
-Have them make a table decoration out of materials from outside, construction paper, makers, glue, etc.
-Put markers, crayons, paint, and paper on the table and let the children make a creation of their own.
-Give them a specific topic and have them draw a picture about it
-Use a sentence frame (I like Christmas because___) and have them fill out of the last word and draw a picture about it. Younger kids can draw a picture and then you write the words below based on what the child tells you about it.
Prior to traveling:
#1- Talk About the Expectations:
What are the expectations of the places where you are headed? Your child wants to know what to expect when they get there if they have never been before. If you’ve been there several times, reminders of those house rules or how to act are good for them. Children aren’t following the rules? Give them two adult approved choices of how they need to act. “You can sit at the table by me, or play games with your cousins without screaming.”
#2- Write a Social Story:
It can be about traveling and the rules of where you are going. This is a short visual story providing support for children who learn best by visuals. You can use it each time you travel to remind the child without having to lecture them about the rules again.
#3- Make a List:
It should contain things you and your family might need. Have everything packed that you might possibly need for your child and your family. If you know that they can’t stay overnight without their favorite stuffed animal, make sure to bring that along. If you feel your child is old enough, have them use the list that you made to pack their bags. This promotes independence and self-awareness.
The day of:
#1 – Bring Along a Quiet Activity Bag:
Children can get overwhelmed during all the commotion. These activities should be calming, for regulating their body, or tatctile/sensory activities in order for your child to escape for a few minutes before returning back to the festivities.
-rice bin/ ziplock bag with rice and other little items inside
-ipod/ phone with appropriate music on it
-color book and crayons
#2 – Give your Child a Job:
Children like to be included and do what their mom is doing. Instead of having them follow you around or keep saying “MOM” every few minutes, give them something to do that also helps you out. They will be a leader when given the opportunity to step up to the occasion.
-Clean up their toys, playroom or bedroom
-Let your child dry the dishes you are washing
-Let them sweep the floor or hold the dust broom for you.
-Wipe down the counter top surfaces with child safe cleaning product
-Help you cook or bake by stirring, measuring, and pouring. This incorporates some good skills for your child in the area of fine motor, math, and life skills for following the directions.
How do you help your children manage the sometimes overwhelming holiday time?
Tiffany is a Midwesterner at heart, but has lived in Albuquerque for 5 ½ years now. She’s a die-hard University of Michigan football fan and received her undergrad degree in Elementary Education, Special Education, and Child Development from Central Michigan University. She earned a Masters degree from Arizona State University in the Instruction and Curriculum, emphasis in Autism. She’s taught in different realms of education for 7 years. She’s most recently an Airforce wife and hopefully one day God will bless this couple with children. Tiffany is the creator and author of Awesome Adventures of Autism and Tiffany M. Edu Consulting.