Preparing your kids for the holiday season

Believe it or not, the holiday season is right around the corner! For many, this time of year is filled with busyness, excitement, and traditions, like watching football, pumpkin patch visits, baking cookies, decorating your home inside and out, and special dinners with family and friends. The last few holiday seasons have looked different from normal, and this year may be more of the same.

We know children thrive in predictable situations, but even when we prepare our kids for what to expect, big holiday events come with a lot of emotions and excitement and that can feel overwhelming. What can you do to help? Go over what you’ll be doing – who is coming, what are you eating, what activities can you expect, how long will you stay, etc. If your child has been having increased anxiety or difficulty in social situations, you can discuss a plan for if they start to feel anxious or overwhelmed. Maybe there’s a room they can slip off to quietly for some alone time, or something they can tell you that lets you know they need some support and a minute away from the crowds.

The holiday season usually means more gatherings than other times of the year, and it can also be a great time to review body boundaries with your kids. Teaching your child about their body and body boundaries empowers them with knowledge of what is appropriate and what is not. It can also teach your child to use their voice and speak up for themselves. Reminding your kids that they can give family members a hug, high five, or wave so they can choose what they feel most comfortable with is one way to empower your child. As the caregiver, you may have to help navigate the “give me a hug!” comments or questions from family.

The goal of body boundaries is that your child understands appropriate touch and understands their body is their own and they can ask for what they need. We know different people respond to social cues, sounds, and touch differently. Understanding that your brother might like a big tight hug from grandma but your sister prefers a gentle squeeze is another way kids learn to be respectful of others boundaries and considerate of their feelings.