Holiday Tips for ParentsThe November and December months bring the cold and our thoughts turn to the holidays. For many of us, the holidays are joyful, exciting celebrations. There is a break from school, special traditions and foods, and a chance to visit relatives and friends. However, the holidays are also fraught with stress. Here are some ideas that may help to minimize the stresses!
A recent poll by the American Psychological Association shows that 61% of Americans cite lack of money as a top cause of holiday stress followed by the pressures of gift giving, lack of time, and credit card debt.Tip 1: Keep gifts in perspective. The holiday is about giving but the most valuable giving you can give is the gift of time and traditions. The newest "game-system" will quickly become passe but your child will remember for a life-time simple things like the annual cut-out cookies you bake together, the decorating of the tree complete with their glittered masterpieces, and the annual reading of favorite holiday stories. Gift your child with these and keep the material items to a manageable minimum.Tip 2: Consider buying an educational game to promote learning. To read the latest reviews that consider both educational value and "kid appeal", go to :http://www.superkids.com/aweb/pages/reviews/reviews.shtml Be sure to search by subject or grade and scroll to the bottom to read the chart that compiles the reviews.
Tip 3: Remember to teach children to also give of their time and talents during the "season of giving". A caroling trip to the nursing home, the making of a simple gift for grandma instead of a "bought gift", and gift-buying simple necessities for those less-fortunate provides your child with valuable lessons on the true meaning of giving.
"Visiting others during the holidays has become just another burden!"
Tip 3: If you find yourself thinking this, perhaps preparation before the event can help. Carve out time to visit and plan the limit to your visits before the day so all persons involved, agree. Pre-discuss what your child can expect and discuss the behavior that is expected before the day. This gives a great time to review with your child polite manners. Also pre-plan what will happen if the behavior is outside the parameters set. Children make much better decisions regarding their actions if they know what to expect!
"No matter how hard I try, things never go as planned!"
Tip 4: Who among us hasn't felt this way? Be Flexible - for children and adults alike, it is often the little things that are remembered. A fun time playing a new board game is more important than mastering the 200 piece erector set that will take two months to learn! Save that activity for the boring month of January and instead dig into that new, simple game that capitalizes on time with your child. Likewise, your child won't even remember the fancy pie that you'd like to master but will treasure the memory of his favorite breakfast of pancakes, made in the shape of a snowman with chocolate chip eyes, nose and mouth!
Tip 5: Start your own traditions. Each year, decorate your tree together and recall and discuss the origin of each ornament. Plan to attend church or the synagogue together. Make special Christmas cards for grandparents.
"But.........this all falls on ME!"
Tip 6: Let's be truthful. Most things do! However, your child will benefit from contributing to the holiday by being a productive participant and not a passive bystander! Even the youngest child can get ready for visitors by picking up her toys. School-aged children can perform easy tasks such as toting visitor's coats to a pre-determined location and retrieving them at the end of a visit, helping to set and clear the table, entertain smaller children, etc. As always, pre-discuss these expectations and practice them for several weeks in advance. With a little effort and praise, you will be surprised what your child can do to help the family celebrate with less effort on your part!
"How do I handle special considerations like divorce, death or major family change?"
Tip 7: There is no doubt that major family changes make the holidays more difficult. In cases of change, it is important to re-negotiate the holidays and to re-establish new and different traditions. In the case of divorce, two holidays should be established. Visitation schedules should be "spelled-out" as early as possible so no surprises put a damper on the special days.
Tip 8: Help your child to shop for or make a personal item for the ex-spouse to affirm your acceptance of that person's special place in your child's heart.
Tip 9: In the case of a death of an important family member, take some time to discuss memories your child has of the past holidays with this person. Draw a picture of that memory and post it on the refrigerator. Some children like to make a holiday card for the person who has passed away. In some cases, the card can be kept in a safe "memory box" or in some cases, the child likes to take the card to the cemetery. Ask your child, he will know what is most helpful.
Tip 10: If an important member of the family is deployed or is living a distance away, plan to make a "goodie box" that will be mailed to that person and received in time for the holiday. Include things that are planned, made or purchased by your child. Encourage the person away from home to do the same thing.
Tip 11: In all cases, don't compete for your child's affection by giving a big gift. Again, the best gifts are gifts from the heart!
Wishing you and your family a joyous New Year filled with wonderful memories of the holiday!