The holidays can be stressful for everyone in the family, especially for toddlers still trying to figure things out. Parents who are prepared for tantrums are likely to handle them better, so here are some common triggers to help you cope with your toddler’s holiday stress.
- Shopping – You may or may not mind standing in long lines, wading through crowds of people, or hitting store after store to snag that clearance sweater, but your toddler does. Try to leave your toddler with a relative or babysitter. You will accomplish more and prevent a tired or overwhelmed toddler meltdown. Is childcare not an option? Make as few trips as possible and plan out your list so you can be in and out quickly. Many websites offer store maps and complete sales guides. Don’t leave home without a few items to keep your toddler entertained and/or fed.
- Grandma’s Jell-O Salad – You can certainly encourage your child to try new foods this season but it can take up to 10 tries for a child to even be willing to try something. When emotions are running high, it might be best to bring out some nofail staple foods that your child won’t complain about. However, not wanting to try something new is no excuse for bad table manners. Talk with your child beforehand, reminding him about his manners. Do remember that while you should make sure your little one behaves appropriately, it’s also important to make sure that your expectations are realistic.
- Be Grateful – We all do our best to raise kids who are grateful but sometimes it is easy for even the nicest kids to have sour moments. Talk with your child beforehand about why it is important to say thank you for every gift they are given, even if they don’t like one. It is also a good idea to explain that they may not receive a gift from everyone and it is more important to be spending time with family during the holidays.
- Who are you? Toddlers can become overwhelmed by all of the relatives coming to visit. Talk with your child ahead of time about who is coming.. Help your child make connections to your guests, such as “Aunt Grace has the brown puppy you played with last year”. When guests arrive, introduce each one.
- The Boogie Man in the Red Suit – Not only is Santa someone your child doesn’t know, he has a lot going on around him. Approach the topic of pictures with Santa by explaining to your child exactly what is going to happen. A long line is a prime opportunity for your little one to see exactly what is expected while he waits for his turn. If you see panic beginning to bubble up, it is typically best to come back another time.