It’s here. Diwali is done, and thanksgiving is next. If you are about to travel 8000 miles and head to the mothership or not, holidays are here in a blink. As parents of little kids, we understand and know the need for everyone to get a breather. If you’re traveling, just the entire change is a lot of little kids. Even if you are home, a change in routine does produce challenging behavior. Here are some tips we hope can help keep your kids creatively engaged during holidays!
Are holiday meltdowns real? Or is it just my child?
It’s not just your child, parents. Children’s psychologists do talk about dysregulation happening during events that are different from routine. We all experience holiday stress, and children are no different.
“This time of year is often packed full of extra activities. While these things can be fun and exciting, they can also cause breaks in routine, disrupt predictability, and increase dysregulation — or meltdown,” Melissa Buchholz, PsyD, pediatric psychologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado (source).
Keep your kids creatively engaged and improve challenging behavior during the holidays
Here are our top 5 tips!
- Set expectations in advance: You may love surprises, but sensitive kids especially need some help in getting their expectations right. It gets harder if they’re traveling. Jet lagged kids meeting lots of people at once is often a recipe for meltdowns.
- Respect boundaries: This is very hard for South-Asians. We often do not have well defined concepts of personal space within a family or extended family. It’s definitely okay to share expectations with grandparents, uncles, and aunts on what your kids prefer. We like to inform everyone of the space bubble needs in advance. There is nothing wrong with establishing healthy boundaries, and your children are little people with personalities who deserve to have this and feel comfortable. It’s best NOT to force interactions.
- Set positive cultural associations: If your children are living away from your heritage culture and have little experience with your heritage languages, then be patient. They are not going to suddenly become multilingual because of your parents. Allow them the space to learn and respond. When kids play with cousins or friends who speak another language, they instantly pick up the nuances. It’s best not to enforce a system that disturbs them. Your job is to set positive cultural associations with your heritage language and culture, not to enforce it. That usually backfires.
- Make a list: We love making daily or weekly lists of things and activities the kids would be involved in. This includes little details like play date with mom, or playing with your favorite toy and more. Then you can include things like reading, drawing, and other creative pursuits as a part of the daily and weekly list. It makes the child feel like they control their day. They respond better with a set up they are aware of. And it can also help with a holiday routine.
- Find a workshop or holiday class: You can find local or online workshops for kids to engage in during holidays to get a little time back for yourself. Let us know if we can help in any way. Our workshops are listed here. But you can request a workshop, if you like. You can also make kids do offline activities like participating in a creative contest. Have them submit a story to our ongoing winter story writing competition. This is a good way to motivate young writers and get them creatively engaged too!
We believe that our job as parents is to introduce positive associations with heritage cultures and not force expectations. Here are some books that will empower you to do just that!
- Little Ladoo’s first trip to India by Vaishali Sahni, Sindhu Senthilnathan and Ravi Satpute
- Bindiya in India by Monique Chheda and Debasmita Dasgupta
- The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk by Kabir Sehgal, Surishtha Sehgal and Jess Golden
What are some other tips you have for our parenting community? Do share.