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Rightsize the Holidays for Babies

6 No-Fail Tips to Lift Your Little One’s Mood and Avoid a Meltdown

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With careful planning—and moderation on your part—your preschooler can enjoy a truly magical season.
Try these Mood Lifters
Tis the season to be jolly. Right?

Well, yes, but for preschoolers, the holidays may look more like this:

  • Too much excitement
  • Too much food
  • Too much company
  • Too much shopping
  • Too much schlepping, and
  • Too much stimulation
Fortunately, there are ways to keep the season joyful. Try these tips.

1. Take some of the surprise out of the holidays.

Reveal your holiday plans to the kids ahead of time andinclude such topics as family activities, community functions, gifts you have to buy (for others, not them), parties to attend, guests you expect, and travel you’ve planned.Transitions are easier when kids knowwhat’s coming up when, where they have to go, how long it takes to get there,whom they’re going to see, and what they’re going to do.

2. Let your pint-size celebrants help you plan the holiday festivities.

Give kids a chance to pitch in with the prep or take over certain tasks—with you nearby to help them. Have them make holiday cards and gift tags, decorate cookies, stuff Rover’s stocking full of biscuits, and help you select teachers’ gifts. The holidays are also a great time for kids to think of others. Let little ones choose gently used toys and clothes to donate or help you prepare kids’ treats for the party you plan to have.

3. Set realistic expectations.

Nothing torpedoes a mood faster than a wish list that exceeds the family budget.Remind your child ahead of time that there are kids nearby who are far lessfortunate. Explain that every family, including yours, has its own values, traditions, and financial resources. Don’t over promise.

4. Expect the unexpected.

Count on late starts, flight delays, traffic, headaches, earaches, tummy aches, and more. Remain flexible. Kids will follow your example. Initiate Plan B. If you’re traveling by car, know the rest stops along the way and be proactive about pulling into them.Pack snacks, books, games, music, puzzles, apps, and videos to keep backseat drivers busy.

5. Don’t overschedule activities.

Arranging too many things to do—shopping, cooking, family visits, FaceTime conversations with relatives, parties, and evening events can leave preschool kids tired and cranky. Set aside time every day for low-key (not over-stimulating) activities, such as reading books, telling stories, playing games, listening to music, or watching old-time kid-friendly holiday movies together.

6. Create a holiday tradition.

Starting something new is a great way to bring parents and kids together. Take a group picture every year in the same location, with everyone standing or seated in the same spot. If you play instruments, stage a concert; if you’re artsy, decorate; and if you’re curious, start a list of all the amazing things to see and wonderful places to go. Give your little one a say in which ones top her list.

Thinking about your child’s school curriculum, how do you view the current quality and quantity of STEM offerings (science, technology, engineering, and math)? Please select one of the following:

Parents Talk Back
Thinking about your child’s school curriculum, how do you view the current quality and quantity of STEM offerings (science, technology, engineering, and math)? Please select one of the following: