I don’t know about you, but I have conflicting emotions when it comes to the Holiday season. They say it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be the most stressful, especially for children with special needs. Planning ahead is a great way to try and mitigate some of the stressors and focus on the good stuff! Here are 8 Holiday tips that may help make this time of year less stressful and more enjoyable:
1. Create clear/reasonable expectations
Make a list, describe or even role-play expectations for an event or gathering. Keep in mind what is reasonable in terms of their abilities.
2. Develop a schedule
Using pictures or a list with times, create a schedule with your child so they can be prepared.
3. Give your child a job
Idle time can be stressful. Giving your child a job to do during an event, like greeting the guests or putting their coats in a specific place, may help them feel important and is also an opportunity to practice social skills.
4. Present opportunities for quiet time
Build into your schedule some quiet time or suggest a quiet break if your child seems overwhelmed.
5. Bring alternate activities
Having some familiar activities in an unfamiliar setting can help an overwhelmed child feel more comfortable.
6. Reduce your stress
Children react to your stress levels, therefore, be kind to yourself and schedule a break for you too!
7. Be flexible
Most of the time, things don’t go the way we plan, but it’s how we respond during those times that makes a difference. Venting your frustrations can come later when the kids are asleep!
Pause for a moment or two, take a deep breath, look around and notice the positives.