8 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress for Preschoolers

reduce holiday stress

Yes, preschoolers can get stressed out at the holidays too!

While adults are stressing about expenses, travel, obligations, overeating, and a full plate, preschoolers might be feeling the stress in the air. Not only that, kids can get over-stimulated by the busyness, the lights, the activities, the gatherings, and more.

Your child may react to stress by crying for small things, having meltdowns, withdrawing from family and friends, biting nails, and complaining of headaches and stomachaches.

If your child is already struggling, or if you’d like to avoid stress, follow these 8 tips to reduce holiday stress for preschoolers

1. Stick to Routines

As much as possible, try and keep your normal routines. Go to bed and wake up close to your normal times, and eat meals and snacks at normal times. If bedtime always includes a story and a song, don’t forego that routine now.

While events and traditions will understandably throw a wrench in your routine, keep things as close to your normal schedule as possible. This helps your child feel like they know what they can expect from moment to moment.

2. Tell Your Child Your Plans

Even when you try to follow your normal routine, many days will look drastically different than what your child is used to.

Help your child feel safe and secure with their day by letting them know what to expect. You can write a list or draw pictures, but even a verbal rundown of what to expect will be helpful.

Telling your child, “After dinner, we’ll wrap presents,” will avoid what could have been a meltdown when your child was expecting to watch TV. 

3. Remember, They’re Kids

A lot of what we expect during the holidays — long church services, extended visits with older relatives, hustling from store to store — can be too much for kids. When your child gets restless or even melts down, remember they’re being put in situations they wouldn’t have chosen.

4. Get Their Input

No doubt you have a long list of what you’d like to do this holiday season. You might even run yourself ragged wrapping all the gifts with the same paper, making 10 types of cookies, and hustling to dozens of events.

But check in with your kids first. What’s actually important to them? What do they picture when they think of the holidays? Even small children can tell you what they want to do this holiday season.

You may find that your to-do list can be shortened when you hear what’s really important to your family.

5. Let Them Help

Let your child be a part of preparations for your traditions. This will not only help them stay productive and less stressed, they’ll feel pride for contributing to the work that goes into a great celebration.

6. Let Them Vent

Things are not going to go well every second of the holiday season. When your child melts down or complains, don’t shush them or punish them. Let them feel their feelings. When they are validated, they can work through those feelings more productively and quickly.

7. Remember the Importance of Giving

Help your child forget so much about the “getting” part of the holidays by focusing on the giving. Donating to a local toy drive or local family is a great way to do this. But if that feels like one more thing on your to-do list, you can still teach the value of giving by helping your child get excited about the gifts they’re giving to their family members.

Helpful tip: Instead of asking your child, “What do you want for the holidays?”, ask, “What are you giving for the holiday?”

8. Plan for Downtime

This is a hustle-bustle season. If you don’t plan to slow down and rest, it will be easy to skip that need altogether.

Schedule downtime each day so you and your child can rest your bodies and your minds. And take breaks if stress levels rise in anybody in the family.

Remember, this is a time of family connection. Downtime contributes to that important need.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we care about the emotional development and wellbeing of our students. To learn more about us, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

How to Ease Your Child’s Anxiety During the Pandemic

We’ve never encountered a time like this. We’ve never lived in a world where schools have been closed indefinitely, where children can’t play at playgrounds or with friends, where all trips are canceled, where grocery store shelves are empty, and where people are walking around wearing masks.

Sure, we may have experienced school closure for a snow day or empty store shelves due to a natural disaster. We may have seen a few people wearing masks in public when they’ve been sick. But we’ve never experienced all of this together — and never for such an extend period of time.

If your children are struggling, it makes sense.

If you’re struggling, it makes sense.

And while you can’t control what’s happening out there in the world, there’s a whole lot you can control in your home environment. If your children are anxious or worried, follow these suggestions to ease your child’s anxiety during this pandemic.

Share Correct, Age-Appropriate Information

When children don’t understand what’s going on, their brains fill in the blanks with their own misinformation. To avoid your child coming up with worrisome ideas about the pandemic, have clear, age-appropriate conversations about the facts.

For preschoolers, you can keep this brief. Too many details may cause more concern than assurance. Be sure to address their concerns with simple facts.

Don’t tell them it’s no big deal, or they don’t need to worry about it. This only feeds their worry and causes them to create their own imaginative explanation in their mind.

Monitor Incoming Information

ease your child's anxiety pandemic

Be mindful of what your child is being exposed to on TV, in your conversations on Zoom, and on your social media feed when they’re peeking over your shoulder.

It’s your job to be your child’s filter right now. Don’t let them be exposed to too much negative information about the pandemic and its effects on the world. Repeated cycles of Coronavirus news is overwhelming for children.

Manage Your Own Anxiety

It’s perfectly understandable if your own anxiety levels are skyrocketing. But leaving your anxieties untended is not only bad for your own mental health, it will affect your children too.

Manage your anxiety by speaking with a therapist, using coping techniques, practicing mindfulness and gratitude, and more.

Remove anxiety language from your speech. Words like panic, fear, crisis, death, and more don’t need to feature into your daily language. Instead, you can use words like precautions, help, safety, and protection.

Be sure not to muse aloud about your own fears to your child.

Focus on the Giving Part of the Pandemic

Staying at home is a safe measure your child can take to protect vulnerable people in our country. Remind them they are doing a good thing for others by staying home from preschool, skipping visits with Grandma, and avoiding playgrounds.

At the same time, don’t shame them if they feel real loss. Acknowledge this is hard, and remind them this is a temporary thing.

Find the Positive

ease your child's anxiety during the pandemic

While this is a hard time, it’s not all bad. And more than anyone, children can see the positive of quarantine. Now, there might be more time to be together as a family. There might be more time to play in the backyard. They might improve a skill, like bike-riding or rollerskating.

Be sure to speak about the things you’re grateful for during this time; the special opportunities you’re getting at home.

Follow a Structure

Have you ever marveled at how a preschool teacher can keep a dozen or more children on task together? Structure is one key element in keeping children focused and moving forward without push back.

When your child knows what to expect throughout the day, they can mentally prepare themselves for the next step. They can also move from some tasks on autopilot on their own, reducing the space and time for fights.

Try and do basic things in the same order each day — morning routines involving making the bed, brushing teeth, getting dressed, etc. are a helpful place to start.

Post your routine somewhere your child can see and reference. Use pictures or symbols to help them easily grasp the steps.

And remember that it’s okay to be flexible when you need to be.

Spend Quality Time Together

Being at home together does not automatically translate into quality time together. Make it a point to spend connected, quality time together — reading a story, playing a game, going for a walk, exercising together, etc. If you need to schedule it into your day to make sure it happens, go for it!

You don’t have to make every minute of the day a minute of quality time. Just make sure you’re spending some real time together on a regular basis.

Practice Mindfulness

There’s never been a better time to learn some new mindfulness techniques! Give yourself and your children the gift of slowing down and boosting your emotional health.

Trust Your Child to Do What They Can Do

ease your child's anxiety

Keep encouraging your child to develop new skills and responsibilities. If your child can do something themselves, let them.

They can clean up after themselves before moving onto a new activity. They can press start on the microwave when you make popcorn. They can fold laundry or put it in their drawers.

Let your child do what they can do. Being responsible will help them feel more secure during this time.

{How to Teach Your  Preschooler Responsibility

Be Compassionate

When you or your child melts down (because it will happen!), be compassionate. This is hard, and we all deserve a hug and second (or third or fourth…) chances.

Compassion will not only help your child feel safe and loved, it will improve your own emotional well-being too.

Hang in there! You’re doing good work, parents!

To learn more about UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

How to Help Your Preschooler Manage Emotions

help your preschooler manage emotionsYour child has been learning about emotions from birth, but that doesn’t mean she’s an expert at emotions yet! And nobody needs to tell parents that. Your child’s meltdown over not being able to sit in the chair he wanted last night is evidence enough that preschoolers are still getting the hang of this whole emotion thing.

In fact, us adults are all still doing our best to regulate our own emotions. It’s no wonder 2-, 3-, and 4-year-old preschoolers still need an extra hand or 12 when it comes to emotions.

But because we’ve spent a few decades learning about our emotions, we often forget that our small children don’t yet know what to do with all their big feelings. Self-awareness does not come naturally. That’s what parents, caregivers, and teachers are for. We’re all here together to guide children to learn about their emotions — and what to do with them.

Children who are supported in their emotions benefit over and over.

Positive Sense of Self

When a child can recognize, express, understand, and manage the many, many feelings that come their way, they develop a positive sense of self. They have the ability to be calm in a variety of situations and to enjoy their experiences, giving them confidence to interact with others and with their environments. A positive relationship with emotions also helps children to be curious learners.

Less Anxiety

We all experience big feelings — sometimes from out of nowhere. These feelings can be scary for adults, so imagine what they must feel like for a small child. To lessen this fear, children need to know that they are allowed to have big feelings. In fact, they should know that big feelings are actually normal. When a parent, teacher, or caregiver validates a feeling instead of dismissing it, the child doesn’t feel the need to fight against the feeling. Any anxiety surrounding that feeling disappears.

help your preschooler manage emotions

Greater Emotional Intelligence

When parents and teachers help children identify their feelings, they begin to understand how to let those feelings out in a healthy way. Not only that, they also have the ability to communicate to you what they are experiencing — because they actually know themselves and know their emotions better.

Quicker Calm

A child who knows how to identify his own emotions is in a better position to calm himself. If he has been validated and has an understanding of what his emotion is, he doesn’t need to fight in confusion. He can learn more quickly what will help him reduce his own stress, and will become emotionally stronger along the way.

Less Brain Clutter

We all know what it’s like when we’re emotionally wrapped up in something and can’t focus on our lives. A child who has learned about emotions gets to use less brain space for unresolved feelings. She gets to resolve her emotions and move on to enjoying her life and her day-to-day activities with confidence and a clear head.

What You Can Do to Help Your Preschooler Manage Emotions

help your preschooler manage emotions

Children develop their emotional skills through their relationships with the important people in their lives. That means parents, caregivers, and teachers play an important role in the healthy development of emotional understanding. Here are some ideas to help you help your preschooler manage emotions.

  • Work on yourself. Many of us were not taught how to identify and validate emotions. Learn to identify your own emotions and be at peace with them. Get help and support if you need it.
  • Model for your child. Let your child know that it’s okay to have difficult feelings by the way you handle them. It’s positive for your child to see you say something like, “I’m really upset because of something that happened at work, and I need to take a minute to sit on the couch and calm down before I start making dinner.”
  • Watch videos about feelings. Find kid-friendly videos that discuss feelings so your child can learn to identify emotions.
  • Validate your child’s feelings. Don’t try and talk your child out of his feelings. Yes, it may seem silly for him to cry because you only put peanut butter on one piece of bread instead of two before putting the sandwich together, but telling him he’s silly is not going to help. Let him know his feelings are okay (because they are!). He wanted something to go a certain way and it didn’t, and it must feel frustrating.
  • Label feelings. Name your feelings throughout the day, and label the feelings you think your child might be having. “You look happy as you ride your bike.” “Are you sad because your sucker fell on the floor?” This gives your child a large emotional vocabulary for identifying emotions in themselves.
  • Accept your child’s feelings. If your child is angry, it isn’t a reflection of poor parenting. Accept that this is how your child feels in this moment.
  • Teach calming techniques. In calm times, teach your child how to breathe deeply, draw a picture to express emotions, do a physical activity to get energy out, and more. Explain that they can use these techniques to calm them when they’re feeling upset.
  • Discuss book characters. As you read a story together, pause every now and then and ask how you think the character must be feeling. Look for clues like facial expressions or behaviors to help identify the feeling.
  • Praise. When your child uses words to express her feelings, praise her. “I like how you told your friend you felt sad when she took your toy.”

Our culture is not always accepting of emotions, and many of us were conditioned to suppress our feelings. As you work with your child, this may turn into a journey of learning for both you and your child. Do your best to be as responsive to your child as you can, but forgive yourself when it doesn’t come naturally or when you make a mistake. Children don’t need us to be perfect. They learn we love them and are there for them through many interactions built up over time. Do your best, and you’ll both find a healthy relationship with emotions.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we know that a healthy emotional framework is critical for a child’s success in life, and we work hard to teach preschoolers how to identify, accept, and appropriately express their emotions. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or visit us online to schedule a time to see how we support emotional health in our classrooms.