This will be our second to last post in our ‘Successful Students’ series. There are five previous posts in this series which provide a variety of tips and ideas for parents and caregivers to develop successful students. In this article, we will be exploring four tips to help you as a parent or guardian support your little student during the busy holiday season. Regardless of where you are located in the world and which holidays your family celebrates, the end of the year can be filled with lots of excitement. Often times this excitement can lead to a sense of overwhelm in small children. Even as adults we often experience feelings of chaos and out of control with holiday parties, travel schedules, and busy day to day obligations. As adults we are responsible for providing a sense of calm and routine to our households. If we are feeling overwhelmed by our busy holiday schedules, it will inevitably trickle down to our little ones. The goal of this post is to provide you with ideas to help your family stick to your schedule and remain calm during the busiest time of year.
Tip 1: Maintain your routine.
Children thrive on routines and the comfort they provide. Especially during busy times, routines can help children feel comfortable and safe.
Small children thrive on routine and knowing what to expect next. They are still learning to feel comfortable and confident in their environment, and in many ways, are dependent upon the adults around them. When the pillars of a child’s routine disappear, such a sleep and food, it can be extremely disruptive to them. This is when many parents notice tantrums and poor behavior in their little one. An article on First Things First’s website states “Young kids do best with consistent routines, and it can be hard when their usual day-to-day schedule is disrupted.”1
As challenging as it can be to stick to a routine during the holiday season, it can be greatly beneficial to you as the adult and to your small child. You will likely find that your child has much better behavior, fewer tantrums, and less disruptions to your holiday fun. If you can stick to your child’s learning routine during this time, even better. Children love to learn and explore and continuing to provide them with mental stimulation can be greatly beneficial.
Tip 2: Explore other celebrations occurring during this season outside your home.
Expose children to traditions other than their own to help develop empathetic children who are tolerant of others.
Consider the first time you learned about a holiday tradition different than your own. If you were older than a few years old, imagine the good that could have come from having a better understanding of those around you from an earlier age. What an incredible gift we can offer our children to provide them with an education about the celebrations of others. Children who learn about various traditions and holidays have an increased understanding, tolerance, and sense of empathy for those who are different than they are. As an article on PBS.org states “By helping your child understand and respect similarities and differences, you will help him realize he is a wonderfully unique person among many other wonderfully unique people on this earth.”2 As a parent myself, I believe it is crucial to raise children who are tolerant of differences among their peers.
Tip 3: Be patient.
Children need patient adults all year long but especially during busy times.
This tip is not unique to the holiday season but is vital to it. Even as we work to keep a routine, remain calm, and shield our children from the chaos the season can bring, it is inevitable that some of it will trickle down to our children. Just as we expect our children to be tolerant of others, we must do the same and be patient with them as well.
Tip 4: Include an opportunity for physical movement each day.
Physical activity has countless benefits for children- one of which is helping children manage their stress.
Physical movement is a wonderful release for children and adults alike. Allowing your child the chance to burn off some of their nervous, overwhelmed energy each day increases the likelihood that they will be better behaved. It also increases the likelihood that they will sleep better at night- just like it does in adults. Movement helps a child remain healthy and feeling well. Children’s Hospital Colorado points out that just “spending 20 minutes outside each day can:
As Dr. Glover continues on their website “Kids have so much stress…Any time we can take away their stress and let a little air out of that balloon, that helps it from bursting. Having outdoor time on a regular basis is one of the ways to help kids be resilient”.3
Developing a successful student is a year round goal for parents and caregivers. While there may be more challenges during the end of year holiday season, it can still be a time of great learning and growth for children. Keeping your routine and staying patient with your student are among our top four tips for supporting your child during this holiday season. Offering daily opportunities for movement and opportunities for your student to learn about customs and traditions outside their own round out our top four tips.
Remember to check back next month for our final post in our “Successful Students” series where we will discuss setting New Year’s goals with your young student.