Holidays can be challenging under the best of circumstances. Throw into the mix a child that has unique needs and it can almost be a recipe for disaster. This is especially true when you are getting together with family members who aren’t familiar with your child’s needs. These simple tips can make your holiday more manageable and maybe you won’t have to put yourself in time out! 

  1. Make sure you have done what you can to get yourself prepared for holiday get-togethers. When you’re stressed you are more likely to be short with family members and then everyone gets stressed.
  2. If your child is old enough, have a conversation about where you’re going, how long you might be there and what is expected of their behavior while you’re there. Knowing these things ahead of time can help your child feel less stressed and more relaxed.
  3. If your child is particularly rigid in their thinking and routine, have a conversation with him to let him know that this will be an opportunity to practice flexibility.
  4. Have a conversation with your child about difficult situations they may encounter and help come up with nice ways to voice frustrations. For example, if they want to play a different game than their cousins, talk to him about how to say he wants to take turns picking games, sharing toys, etc.
  5. Create a plan for what the child can do when they’re starting to get stressed (or try to anticipate when this might happen)-is there a quiet place he can go for a little while to get away from the noise, can he sit with you to get a brief break, can he tell you with a word or phrase that he needs to leave because he’s too overwhelmed? Having this conversation ahead of time can alleviate the stress that comes with being out of the routine, having a lot of people around, being expected to play games with others, sharing, etc.

Be sure to listen to your child-his behavior is always trying to tell you something. Following these tips should help you keep your sanity and make Christmas more enjoyable for everyone!