Wednesday, December 22, 2010

You can do it!!

I have read a LOT of parenting books. It is an important subject that deserves a lot of research, and who couldn’t use a few extra tips? One of my favorites is: Raising Your Spirited Child, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. If you haven’t read it, it is WELL worth your time.
My favorite token that I have taken from the book is “prepare your child for the situation and prepared the situation for your child”. Simple, to the point, and SO important.

Christmas is mere hours away. Visions of sugar plums dancing through your child’s head, happy and patient youngsters listening for sleigh bells? OR, kids who are OVERLY excited for the Christmas craze, and you wondering if coal is really what is deserved this year?

This time of year we are all short on sleep and high on holiday treats. The house is full of adults wanting to have grown up discussions. We desire children to calmly open each gift with the appropriate amount of appreciation and “thank you” to each family member. Time to check our expectations.

First, “prepare your child for the situation”. Tell your child what to expect. It WILL be loud, overwhelming, and crowded. They WILL receive a gift that they don’t like, or already have. Talk with them about how to handle the potential anxiety of the day. Offer to bring comfort items, and give them escape plans when it becomes too much. Give them examples of appropriate ways to address and thank each family member for their gifts no matter the gift. Ask them for suggestions that will help them feel more comfortable with the day. Some children thrive on the extra energy of the holiday, and others are brought to their knees by it. Recognize what is the best situation is for each of your children’s temperaments, and do your best to adjust, when possible.

Just as important, step two, “prepare the situation for your child”. Does your holiday time line fall right in the middle of your child’s nap? Are meal times going to be completely different from the “norm”? My entire family benefits from our daily quiet time. At least one hour of down time a day, when we can all get some space and re-charge, and that has been added into our Christmas day as well. A marathon day of traveling, visitors, junk food, and no rest is a guaranteed way to have a colossal family melt down. Talk about the worst situation to have the unrealistic expectations that we already place on Christmas!

Be realistic with your holiday schedule and location. Try to fit in as much rest as you can. When possible, don’t rush your children through opening gifts faster than a Nascar pit stop. Savor each moment, each gift, each family member, and bring those anxiety levels down, Christmas isn’t a sprint.

I am adding a third step to this recipe due to the Christmas Craziness, “know when to call it a day”. This year our family has big events on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. We have talked ahead of time as a family, and know that if we get too tired or overwhelmed, we can leave (or politely let our guests know that we need our party to end). Most important is to enjoy this time together, and that may mean one hour of joy, rather than four hours of torture. Don’t force it, if enough is enough, get out and get the space and quiet that you all need.

Good luck, and happy holidays (with a happy family) to all of us!!

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

I own that exact book but never made it all the way through! I should get to it.