Holidays with an Intense Child
Celebrating the holidays with an intense child can cause a great deal of discomfort. You’re concerned about keeping things socially acceptable; you would rather not see “that look” on your sister-in-law’s face, and staying home in front of the TV never felt so appealing. But on you go, feeling the pull of family responsibility, not wanting to disappoint people – still knowing you will, because it’s almost impossible to take your child anywhere without a scene.
Five tips for surviving, and even enjoying, the holidays with your intense child. Yes, it’s possible!
- Talk in advance with your child about how it will be at the relatives’ house this holiday.
- Consider that sensory issues are at the core of the misbehavior you see in your child. Too many smells mingling, sparkly things and bright snow, tags in new clothes, sounds of people all talking at once, the closeness of others, and the taste of unfamiliar foods can throw a child into a state of complete undoing.
- Make a plan to decrease the sensory input for your child. Ask her what would feel good: would you like to go somewhere in the house if it gets to be too much? How about spending time under mom’s big jacket? What breathing exercises would you like to do to calm yourself?
- Decrease expectations for your child’s participation and ask others to do the same. Remember that intense behavior such as tantrums come from being overwhelmed.
- Go to her frequently throughout the visit to give her positive statements about how well she’s doing. “When you take care of yourself while we’re at Aunt Sarah’s, I feel so proud of you.”
These statements help your child stay on a “string of successes.” Your child will respond with more successes, as you are causing a response in their body that says, “I am good at this.” The better they feel about how they are doing, the more they’ll do it!
"These are great tips; both for the families who have that intense child, and for the families who may be welcoming the intense child," says Emily Tinetti, Parent Educator with Anoka-Hennepin Schools Early Childhood Family Education.
Tinetti shared these three additional tips:
- If possible, being able to talk with the family that you are visiting beforehand about some of your feelings as well as the possibility of setting up a place in the home where the child can take a break can be helpful.
- Think about your child’s basic needs before you go so you are setting them up for success. Are they well-rested and had enough sleep? Have they had enough stimulation, or could they be over-stimulated?
- Give your child permission to take a break, and if necessary, bring along a comfort item or visual timer to help aid in the break.
Finally, Tinetti added, “This may just be a great opportunity to come away with a successful visit, which you can talk about with your child, strengthening your bond along with your child’s ability to cope!”Source: Feigal, Tina. Holidays with Your Intense Child. Retrieved from: http://parentingmojo.com/holidays-intense-child/