Preparing your toddler for the holiday season
Sleigh bells ring, lights sparkle, and Santa may be right around the corner. The holiday season is here! Each of us has a vision of how they would like holiday festivities to proceed for their family. However, many babies and toddlers may not cooperate. From screaming and crying when introduced to Santa or refusing to eat any of the holiday foods, toddlers may not react to festive experiences as we would expect or wish.
Here are three quick tips to help you and your toddler navigate potential holiday landmines.
Remember routines. Holiday traditions can be comforting to adults, but remember that we have had plenty of practice establishing routines and developing coping strategies for when the day-to-day changes. However, your child is probably most comfortable in his or her regular routine which can differ significantly during the holidays. Even small changes in routines can lead to big changes in toddler reactions.
-Try to keep schedule and routine as consistent as possible.
-If routine has to be altered or your family visits places out of the ordinary, try to have some familiar items, activities, or comfort items for your child. New routines are unpredictable and sometimes scary for young children.
Prepare for new experiences. Babies and toddlers may not know what to expect of new holiday experiences. Santa could be a scary, scary man. Out-of-town family members may seem like strangers. Think about what experiences may be new for your toddler and help him prepare for them.
-Talk or read books about holiday experiences.
-Prepare and let your child explore holiday foods before the party. Keep some "old-faithful" options on standby.
-Show your child pictures of family members or make a "Who will we see?" mini-picture album for your child to explore. This way your toddler has multiple opportunities to see these faces and hear the names before they meet the actual people.
-Talk about what is going to happen next. Give your toddler some time to prepare for transitions between activities.
Watch your child's signals. You know your child better than anyone. Keep an eye out for signals that your child is overwhelmed, scared, shy, or tired. Plan a quiet spot that you can go with your child, if he or she starts to get upset or overwhelmed. You may have to be a little flexible with your expectations as your child may need some time to adjust and take in all the excitement.
Remember to consider what works best for you and your child! No one type of tradition or strategy will be a good fit for every family. If your child is having difficulty coping with new experiences or you have concerns about his or her development, we can help! Remember, Babies Can't Wait! Contact the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB: http://www.racsb.state.va.us/