Amid the Christmas carols and “Ho! Ho! Ho!”s, the usual routine in the lives of families and children get topsy-turvy. All of a sudden, tantrums, screams, and fights take over the fantasy of a cozy, warm, and fun festive mood. This is when you ask, “Where can I get parenting tips for the holidays?”
Have no fear, for BridgingPsych is here!
We bring you, frazzled and distraught parents who mean the best for your kiddos, 11 simple parenting tips for the festive period.
- Set An Objective
- Seeing Your Child As A Person
- Have Safe Expectations
- Pre-Event Briefing
- Learning Physical Boundaries
- Slowing Down
- Holiday Gratitude
- Festive Communication
- Dressing Down
- Keep To Routine
- Self-Care For Parents
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Parenting Tip 1: Set An Objective
Why do you want to celebrate the holidays? Is it a platform for family and friends to gather? An effort to have children spend more time with their grandparents? Or a way to destress and relax?
Regardless of your motives, you need to set an objective for the holiday season. The first parenting tips for holidays recommend figuring out your “why” for the holidays.
Is It About Love And Connection?
If you intend to share the love and bridge connections between family and friends, align your actions with this objective. Instead of worrying about how your living room looks like to your neighbors, choose to have fun activities for the family. Similarly, the laundry basket may be full, the cake unbaked, or the lawn unmowed.
Let’s accept it–you will not be having a perfect and tidy home. When you focus on cleaning and organizing there is little time left for bonding. Holiday craft may turn out misaligned because you were too busy laughing when little Kendric smeared paint over his face.
Is It To Destress And Relax?
You may be ambitiously planning the “most awesome” Christmas party ever seen in your neighborhood. Takedown Dan and Kate once and for all. Unfortunately, it does not bode well if you intend to have a festive period that helps you recharge for the new year.
That ambitious party may be a potluck gathering instead. Home-baked cookies can be store-bought. Negotiate cleaning services from your children, nieces, and nephews. Adorn the Christmas tree with fairy lights only. Barter, negotiate, and trade your way to an easy festive period!
Is It To Showcase The Family?
By all means, it may be your festive objective to portray the impression that your family and home life is wonderful. No judgment there. The parents, children, and retriever in matching sweaters seated cozily around the living room artfully decorated in the latest style may be your ultimate goal.
In that case, ditch the festive mood. You will need to accept that your children will be cranky, tired, and annoyed with the standards set. Your partner may spend more time in the study because he does not want to tamper with the perfect living room decorations. And the dog will most definitely pee under the tree.
The first parenting tip for the holidays recommend setting objectives, accepting the trade-offs, and enjoying the festive period!
P.s. Still having problems identifying your objective? The American Psychological Association (APA) suggests goals for parenting as ensuring your child’s health and safety, preparing your child to be a productive adult, and transmitting cultural values. Read more here.
Parenting Tip 2: Seeing Your Child As A Person
Children can be likened to popcorn – each kernel is exposed to the same amount of heat and oil in the same pot, yet they pop at different intervals. We may not know why, but we know that your child is an individual with a unique personality.
For example, if your child is:
- Shy and Quiet: They may require time to warm up to adults at an event! Do not expect them to jump into festive activities immediately.
- Loud and Loves Engaging: They may kick up a fuss when it is time to leave the event.
- Sensitive to stimuli: Your child may get sensitive to loud noises or excessive touch, so let them know which quiet room is available when it is too much to handle.
These parenting tips for holidays recommend that you be flexible and address your child’s way of relating to others before any major events!
Parenting Tip 3: Have Safe Expectations
“When my child wakes up on Christmas morning, he will brush his teeth, make his bed, come downstairs and start fixing breakfast for the family. He will greet us parents when we wake up and make polite conversation over dinner.”
That’s a nice fantasy, but sadly even on our best days in the family unexpected things may occur.
Expectations Should Be Age-Appropriate
Let your child be a child by having minimal, related expectations according to their ages. Don’t expect a toddler to stay put on a dinner chair during a holiday party. Similarly, a teenager will not stay off their mobile devices for the whole event. Reduce your frustrations by having appropriate expectations and working within them.
For example, you could let your teen know that mobile devices should be kept silent and away during mealtimes. They then have the option of texting friends or updating their Instagram after meals.
Reduce Expectations On Gifts
Too often nowadays, children expect to receive several gifts from each family member and relatives. They may even want to receive multiple gifts from you as parents! Even though we love our little kiddos, there are other ways of giving without breaking the bank account.
Gift-giving could be limited to:
- One gift they want
- One gift they need (but may not know they do)
- One gift for knowledge (books or a science kit)
- One gift on experiences (baking classes, riding sessions, and much more!)
Similarly, let your loved ones know that you are teaching your children to be satisfied with limited gifts for the holiday period. The grandparents may still choose to spoil your children, but overall there will be lesser expensive gifts and more meaningful experiences.
Parenting Tip 4: Pre-Event Briefing
Before the festive season, you can have some family time where everyone shares one thing they look forward to during the season. It could be an activity, a movie, or even a Christmas dish!
This way, you can then work on incorporating what is appreciated into your holiday season and cancel those unnecessary and costly activities.
This is a great opportunity to negotiate for tasks you wish to be completed for the holidays and behaviors that are encouraged during any social events. Clearly discuss rules and expectations.
Special holidays parenting highlight: Make this into a yearly family event by preparing snacks, throwing in some jokes, and tuning into Christmas carols!
Parenting Tip 5: Learning Physical Boundaries
Too often, big persons assume that little persons enjoy long hugs and tight cuddles. However, this may not be the case for every child. On top of that, you do not want your children to be offering hugs and kisses to strangers.
Let your children know that it is fine to reject hugs or kisses. Teach them how to say, “I want a high-five!” or “Let’s shake!”. Educate that it is okay to say “no” to physical touches they do not enjoy.
After any social events, you may prompt your child by asking, “How did you find saying “no” today?” and talk through any difficulties they had.
Parenting Tip 6: Slowing Down
If you listed your objective for the holiday season as “enjoying closer relationships with the family” then this parenting tip for the holidays is perfect for you. Most holidays rush by in the blink of an eye because we try to do too much in a period that is too short. Gifts to buy, rooms to decorate, food to cook, and events to host!
Take a step back to identify which tasks are really necessary to enjoy your holiday to the fullest.
Try: Sharing The Work!
You might think that you are the only one capable of doing the job. True as that may be, involving family members or delegating the tasks may be the thing you need to truly enjoy your festive season.
Instead of insisting on cooking for the Christmas dinner, why not order takeaway from your local family-favorite restaurant instead? Your husband could be in charge of clearing the table, and your children of picking up toys in the living room. In addition, do you need a 3-tier cake as a centerpiece for just one dinner?
To take it one step further, let your child accumulate rewards from assisting chores at home. The living room decorations and raking the leaves in the porch could mean a special dish for dinner. A win-win situation since you’ve been meaning to make that dish in the first place, in peace of mind when your children are busy cleaning the house!
Try: Using Shortcuts!
It’s not the end of the world when you don’t have that glittery and glowing living room with freshly-baked cookie aroma in the air. We all understand that parents have too much to do! Think efficiency. Think shortcuts.
Not all rooms in the entire house have to be cleaned and prepped for the holidays. Limit it to just the living room and dining area. Keep the dog in the kitchen and use it as an excuse to keep guests from streaming out of bounds.
Instead of the full package of mistletoe, bobbles, mini Santas, pinecones, fairy lights, and that huge star on top of the tree, opt for a simple white festive theme. Limiting it to just one color will reduce at least half of unnecessary decorative items.
The annual gathering at your house followed by one more at Aunt Mary’s and the last Boxing Day event at the grandparents could be just one gathering at a reserved private dining area. Three festive events combined into one, plus the removal of having to clean up after parties.
Do you think you have a shortcut already? I bet you could creatively do more!
Parenting Tip 7: Holiday Gratitude
The festive season is also known as the “season of giving”. Your child may tend to expect presents, gifts, and treats every holiday season. This parenting tip for the holiday recommends teaching them the gift of gratitude instead.
Alternative: Gifts Of Service
Involve your family in activities where they may serve others. This could mean the local church’s annual decoration and planning activities, soup kitchen events, or even goodie-bag assembling for the less fortunate.
Your child may be inspired to plan their gratitude activities instead. They may want to bake or cook a meal for the family facing unemployment this year, or the homeless man outside the local supermarket. Encourage them in these activities that they learn how to contribute to society in the long run.
No time to spend? Think about gifts of monetary value such as hampers, gift bags, or even grocery vouchers. Limited funds? How about singing carols at the neighborhood’s annual festive event? No matter your situation, your family could both have fun and learn the true meaning of Christmas.
Alternative: Gifts Of Time
We all get it. Working full-time, looking after the children, sending them for ball games, and managing household chores are tough. Your children also know that your time is limited, and hence gifts of time could be a perfect gift that they will appreciate!
Instead of another fancy toy, consider the gift of joining a full mother-daughter baking class with your child. The individual, undivided attention you can shower on your child would be better than any Nintendo Switch.
A full set of VR equipment for that video game will not begin to compare with a football match at the local park, father versus sons. A new violin loses its luster to jamming on the keyboard, composing a funny tune that is just between you and your child.
P.s. Don’t Force It
Learning about gratitude sounds meaningful and promising for your child, but if they are not ready to switch from receiving to giving, let them learn at their own pace. It takes time to change habits.
You could model for your child how to give in this festive period, and let them see how fulfilling it is. The best way to learn is always by example.
Parenting Tip 8: Festive Communication
Think grouchy face. Sarcasm. Exasperation. On top of the usual whining.
We can be prone to such communication styles because we overdo our schedule for the season. Instead of the tendency to grouch and moan, why not try some sincere encouragement this year.
- Look for ways to compliment your child: “Your piano practice seems to have improved. Mummy is so proud of your efforts!”
- Give immediate feedback: “Mummy and daddy were upset just now because you forgot to pick up your toys. Please pick them up and put them in the basket immediately, or we could fall over your toys and get hurt.”
- Talk about your year’s achievements: “I was scared of a big project at work this year, but I did my best and got the project done well!”
- Don’t forget your partner: “I am always proud of your growth as a spouse and parent, dear.”
Parenting Tip 9: Dressing Down
Do you know that picture-perfect scene where all 72 members of the clan wear matching jumpers and smile at the same time before the camera clicks? Well, it doesn’t exist.
Most of the time grandparents are bored and looking away. Children much prefer to continue chasing after their cousins. That aunt is still eyeing the table of “holiday spirits” and wondering when is it polite enough to take her leave.
In that case, do not insist that your child must wear their dressy outfits for social gatherings. If it will be their first time in the outfit, ensure that they have previously worn or tried it on. Scratchy or tight clothing usually ensures that the night ends up in screams and tantrums.
One way around this is to negotiate with your child to put on specific clothes for one part of the night. Schedule photo-taking time in the earlier part of the evening, and allow your child to change once pictures are taken.
Let them be cozy and comfortable for the event, and all will be smiles (unless something else triggers the tantrums, you know what I mean).
Parenting Tip 10: Keep To Routine
Your child needs to maintain a similar routine throughout the holiday period, or it will be another struggle trying to implement a routine before school resumes in the new year. Bedtimes should be largely similar, although you may allow for an additional hour only on one or two special events each year. Your child will then learn to appreciate the relaxation of rules and adhere to routines on other days.
We know from experts that routines are the things that keep a child grounded and emotionally regulated. When there are no set boundaries, more tantrums, crankiness, and poor behavior occur. Hence, parenting tips for holidays emphasize never underestimating the importance of routines!
Keep these routines in place:
- Family time
Routines that may be relaxed or removed:
- House chores
- Playdates or other social activities
Parenting Tip 11: Self-Care For Parents
Remember, you are the ones keeping the family grounded and going. If you lose your momentum due to multiple stressors and obligations, chances are that your family members are also confused and unable to function well.
It’s perfectly alright (and I would say your rights, even) to wind down and get some downtime during the festive period. A short timeframe may just be what you need to refresh and keep up with other tasks.
Ideas for self-care:
- Long bath (get some bath-bombs in there!)
- Cup of tea
- Short walk
- Conversation with a friend
Hacks For The Hols
Being a parent at any time is hard, and the festive season brings along some additional obstacles. Applying simple, effective, and practical parenting tips for the holidays is the key to helping you skim through the holiday like a pro!
From setting the festive mood by objectives and expectations to applying self-care for your wellbeing, let us welcome the season with a jolly outlook!
How should I start training my child for the holiday season?
Firstly, set the correct expectations for your child. Communicate them clearly and specifically in a way that they may understand. Allow for mistakes as they learn how to behave in a desirably. Lastly, give appropriate rewards when they are successful!
At what age should I set expectations for my child?
At the age of 3. When they can communicate and understand instructions, you can start with simple expectations for your child. Examples include staying near to parents, playing only in the agreed area, and holding hands while outside of the home.
Should I discipline my child if he/she is disobedient?
Although punishment may seem effective, it is usually a short-term resort. We recommend using positive reinforcements for behaviors you wish to see instead. For example, give your child verbal praise and a pat on the back when they place their plates in the kitchen sink. An enthusiastic tone of voice would make the praise more effective.
If you are looking for other resources that will help you on your parenting journey, you can refer to: