Making the Holidays Enjoyable
Question: I hate to leave my child out of all the holiday festivities. What can I do to make the holidays enjoyable for everyone?
Answer: The holidays can be a stressful time of year for families. No matter which holiday your family celebrates, being organized and following a few tips can help make it a fun time for the entire family. Holiday crowds, lights, noise, strangers, hugging, and a change in routine can be a recipe for stress and sensory overload during the holiday season with special needs children. Parents and caregivers need to be flexible during this time of year. You may need to alter traditions and create new traditions which include your special needs child.
Here are a few tips.
Set Up a Break Space: Set a place where your child can go when overwhelmed. Ensure everyone knows that this space is off limits to other family and guests. Set limits to exposure so your child does not become over stressed or over exposed to excessive sensory stimulation.
Be Prepared: Discuss with your child the schedule of events for special activities. Your child will be more relaxed and calm knowing what is coming up. Let them know what to expect during each event or activity. Let family know what to expect. If your child does not like kisses on the face, explain that to friends and relatives. Stories, books, and movies that are related to the holidays can be a big help in preparing your child for what to expect during the holidays.
Set Limits: If you’re planning to be at a party, gathering, shopping or restaurant set a reasonable time limit and stick to it.
Don’t Rush: Rushing and relaxing don’t go together. Make sure you leave enough time to enjoy the activity.
Shopping: Avoid taking your children shopping on the busiest shopping days of the year. The chaos, noise of large crowds, and long lines will definitely add stress to your life. Know and be aware of what triggers your child to have a meltdown. Avoid these as possible. Know how you will react and have a plan if your child does have a meltdown.
Be Flexible: Relax your expectations and definitions of what the holidays should be like. Just have fun. If you don’t accomplish everything you expected, it’s okay. Being together creates memories.
FREE DOWNLOAD: PSN Holiday Tip Guide
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This post originally appeared on our November/December 2013 Magazine