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.