The holidays are a magical time for children but can also be filled with over stimulation, changes in schedules, changes in diet and even with their interactions with their parents. These are some of the common pitfall parents make during the holidays with their children.
Using Santa to manage behavior during the holidays is something I have heard parents time and time again use as a “behavior modifier” while I was a preschool director. Admittedly, as a parent, I too have used this crutch. Making statements like “If you don’t stop screaming Santa is not going to bring you any toys” or “If you don’t eat your dinner Santa can’t bring you anything for Christmas”. Let’s admit the truth, Santa is coming no matter what. What parent is really going to pull the plug on Christmas just because their child refused to eat their tuna sandwich? The answer is none. So don’t change the way you manage your child’s behavior good or bad just because the Christmas tree is up.
Not Having a Schedule
This can be a big deal breaker for children’s behavior if parents disregard the normal family schedule just because of holiday celebrations, crazy schedules and holiday cheer. If bedtime is 8:00 p.m. then keep it as close to that as possible. This might mean scheduling the holiday bash as a brunch instead of an evening cocktail or dinner party. You will be thankful in the end that your children were not up until 11:00 p.m. wired, overtired and just plain cranky.
Overdue the Holiday Cheer
Cookies, candy, cocoa, rich foods and more are all apart of the holidays. If your child is not used to eating such a diet, the holidays may mean trouble for their tummy and behavior issues for you. Children’s diet can cause behavior problems, according to an article on children’s nutrition on the website Dr. Greene.com, Pediatrics Naturally. So allow some sweets and treats but don’t over do it or you may regret it!
I know as a parent, I want to give my children their hearts desire. However, making promises that you cannot deliver on is not the right choice. If your holiday budget does not include a new bike or video game system then do not make your child believe that they “might” get one. You can tell your child compassionately that “a bike is a very expensive present and I don’t think that we will be able to get one this year, but I do know that you are going to be getting some other things from your wish list that you are going to love”. This will prevent you from making a promise that you will later feel bad about not keeping and your child will not be expecting this expensive gift under the tree on Christmas morning. If things change and you can get the desired gift without bankrupting the family then it will truly be a Christmas surprise when they open the wrapping.
Between work, holiday parties, shipping, preparations and gift giving, the holidays can make parents double their workload and miss out on spending time with their children. If you are looking at your calendar and realizing your next day with the kids is occurring sometime after January 1, then you need to do some adjusting. Just because the season is hectic does not mean it is an excuse to miss out on time with the kids. Let them help you wrap gift, bake, make meals, decorate, and prepare for the holiday season. You might want to also spend some time to enjoy the cheer of the season with your kids too, walk around the neighborhood and look at holiday lights and decorations or take a drive to go visit a neighborhood that goes all out for the season. You can also look for holiday activities in your city and plan a special trip.