The winter season brings with it much more than holiday cheer and fun. Weeks and sometimes months of holiday shopping, traveling, food, and visiting family can create enough stress to exhaust the most festive of us.
Children feel it too, especially when their routines are interrupted with an overload of events that are often out of their control. Changes in schedule, varying from good food choices can also impact behaviors and moods.
Prioritize Sleeping and Eating:
The amount of sleep recommended for children varies with age. Toddlers typically sleep 11 to 14 hours in a 24-hour period; preschoolers 10 to 13 hours; school-age kids and preteens 9 to 12 hours per night; and teens 8 to 10 hours. Eating on a regular schedule also helps maintain energy and blood sugar levels. If planned parties or meals conflict with your child’s eating schedule, bring along healthy snacks if needed.
For younger kids, sticking to a consistent eating and sleeping schedule makes it less likely they’ll have a meltdown. Regardless of age, we function better when we have eat healthy food and get plenty of sleep.
Set Limits When It Comes to Diet
The holidays offer easy access to unhealthy foods and desserts. With younger children, it’s easier to choose what is put on their plate. As kids get older and make more decisions on their own, this can be a challenge.
When it comes to sweets, moderation is the key. One way to encourage moderation is to have the parents set limits on the quantity of certain types of food and then let the child decide what they eat. An example is allowing a set amount of sweets per week (i.e., one per day or only on a weekend) and leaving it up to the child to decide when they get to treat themselves.
Develop a Game Plan for Screen Time
There may be more access to television, computers and mobile devices at home while children are on holiday breaks from daycare and school. One way to manage this is with a media and screen time plan.
Many of the same holiday specials parents watched as children are still popular today. Use your discretion in how many of these you allow your children to watch. When you do allow them to watch, be with them and discuss the lessons taught in the special.
Plan for Group Activity
It is up to parents during holiday breaks to find a substitute for the physical activity that is part of a child’s normal school curriculum. Whatever options are available, try to make some of those family activities. Have your child help pick those activities. This is a great way to create family traditions in the future.
Enjoy the Moment
Many of the activities we take part in during the holidays are not meant to take center stage, but often do. Focus on creating memories with your child. It’s a great opportunity to make the breaks from your routines fun instead of stressful.
Kids grow up fast. Each holiday season, it is like being around a completely different person. It’s important for parents to slow down, be present and enjoy this time of year with their children.
If you are interested in contacting Brad Fantle for speaking engagements you may reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is a 7th Degree Black Belt with Tiger Rock Martial Arts, has 25 years experience working with children and teaching self-defense, an ADHD Coach and has a BA in Sports & Fitness from the University of Alabama