Helping Your Children Cope with Stress: Tips for the Holiday Season.

Whatever your special holiday, the holiday season can cause stress in young children. Children respond to stress in their own ways: crying, tantrums, clinging, excessive energy, temporary regression such as thumb sucking and many other ways. We can’t eliminate all holiday stress, but we can teach healthy ways to deal with stressful situations! This content is from Public Health- Seattle/King County

· Establish predictable routines. Eat regular meals. Make sure that children get enough sleep. Plan for rest times. Children need to know what is going to happen. Take time to explain the day’s activities.
· Prepare ahead for a hectic day. Put your child’s clothes out the night before. Plan for snacks. Quick, take-along snacks such as crackers, veggies, and fruit require no refrigeration and can be shared when shopping lines are long or hunger makes tempers flare.
· If the family is always rushing, consider cutting back on the number of planned activities or schedule them over several days.
· Allow time for children to play. Plan frequent activity breaks. Find fun things you can do together.
· Set a good example yourself. Avoid overextending yourself by trying to do too much/ Plan quiet times and “get away” activities for yourself.
· Share humor in difficult situations. Take a “step back” and relax
· Express positive appreciation for cooperative behavior. Provide LOTS AND LOTS OF HUGS!
· Develop bedtime rituals: read a book, play a quiet game, or talk
· Avoid unnecessary competition and over stimulating games or toys.
· Plan ahead if you are expecting guests. Put away breakable or “special things”. Let your children share in planning how to make your guests comfortable. Discuss any changes in routine.
· If you are going to be visiting others, discuss any rules that might be different from home or activities that may be unfamiliar. Let your child help you make plans for bringing or making a gift.
· Show your child pictures of any unfamiliar guests. Talk about Grandma and Grandpa.

STRESS REDUCTION ACTIVITES CAN INCLUDE:

· Make “waiting” boxes to take along. Include things such as paper, coloring materials, small games or books
· Give your child a back rub
· Listen to the rain fall….or other comforting sounds
· Play finger games or counting games
· Plan a surprise or do something special
· Make up a story about the things you see
· Tell a ‘once upon a time’ story about your child
· Make silly faces. Laugh!
· Exercise! Exercise! Exercise!