With the holidays fast approaching, many of us travel or go to other family members' homes. For many children there is a lot of anxiety around traveling and not being at home. It can be a lot for a child to manage. They go from having a school schedule to Holiday break with little to no structure in their days.
Here is a good list for you and your child(ren) to go over before traveling and the Holidays hit.
Preparation: Start the conversations early. Fill your child in on where you are traveling to and for what holidays. This will help them be able to prepare mentally. You may consider creating a holiday calendar for them to look at and write down events for them to see.
Mode of Transportation: Talk about HOW you are traveling. Flying may bring on anxiety for first time fliers. Some children get car sick on long car rides. Come up with fun things to do during the travel time and make a game plan for any anxiety or sickness that pops up. Kids love to know the plan and they love to help with the plan.
Listen: Be sure to listen to any and all of their concerns. It is important that children know they are heard and considered during the holidays.
People: The best part of the holidays can be seeing all of your friends and family! But have you heard of dirty Uncle Sal? Make sure everyone is prepared for appropriate conversations and boundary setting. Help your kids pick their comfort level with hugging, being alone with others and uncomfy situations. Maybe come up with a code word for them when they need your help but feel uncomfortable asking for help in front of someone.
Change: This is a hard one. Sometimes weather, sickness or other changes happen that stop the original plan. This can be disappointing, sad or even make you mad. These feelings are okay in the moment, but it always helps children when you talk about what to do with those feelings. Maybe come up with a plan B so there's still something fun to do despite the changes.
Take a Break: This is a big one. Kids don’t always know how to express when they are overloaded or overwhelmed from stimulation. Parties are fun,opening presents is a blast and cousin time is special! Be sure to show your children how to walk away when they are frustrated, ask for help when they need it and find a quiet place to recharge and rest. Creating a ‘Quiet Bag” will help your kids know when to take a break. Pack books, a favorite stuffed animal, PJ’s or maybe download a movie on an iPad or phone.
Check-In: This is important for you as the adult as children won’t stop until you say it’s time to go home. Checking in can be as simple as making sure the kids are fed and aren’t getting into mischief! Checking in will also give your kids a chance to talk with you if they are feeling uncomfortable around someone or are having trouble with their emotions
This list is not exhaustive. Add other things you may need for your family and do whatever you need to do to have fun this holiday season! Remember your boundaries, make those Christmas cookies and enjoy this time as a family!