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  • Writer's pictureWork & Play

Little Kids, Big Emotions: Holiday Edition

The holiday season is chock full of events, family time, concerts, shows, travel, traffic, activities, and presents. All of that can bring up all kinds of feelings for EVERYONE.

To a young child, this can mean being expected to do things that feel overwhelming, irritating, worry-inducing, uncomfortable and stressful. Often with the best of intentions, we expect our kiddos to rise to the occasion (i.e. wear the itchy clothes, say hello, don’t interrupt, smile for pictures, wait in line, etc.) while also soaking up the “magic” and whimsy of the season. 

When we look at it that way, a meltdown or battle seems not only likely but inevitable! What kinds of things might cause some friction?

  • Picking out and giving presents to others 

  • Hugging and saying hello to relatives

  • Saying thank you even if you don’t like a gift 

  • Sitting still when feeling anxious, irritated, excited or eager

  • Handling loads of transitions and routines that are unpredictable

  • Attending overstimulating parties/events and expecting “good behavior”

  • Sharing a parent’s attention with others

  • Meeting new people, going to new places, and being expected to “roll with it”

If you’ve been parenting into the toddler years and beyond, we would guess you know what we are referring to firsthand. Whether you're met with a sassy reaction, full tilt meltdown, throwing items, stubborn willfulness or screaming, being extra silly, hiding behind something or crying, it’s all really hard. 

As parents we can be quick to react - maybe panic because we look like bad parents? Or scold because we are embarrassed? Sweat and become anxious ourselves as we feel stuck on what is the “correct” next move? Worry that we have a little one who is “bratty” or ungrateful. 

Folks, we can easily come up with these scenarios because we’ve been there, too.

Here’s the thing about these moments: 

These seemingly troubling reactions and scenarios can rattle all involved AND…they are typical and often to be expected.

It’s more than likely not your parenting or your kiddo or junk food or too much screen time or not moving the elf or too many treats…it’s a part of your child’s development. When kids get overwhelmed, overstimulated and out of sorts, they make choices that are not their norm and sometimes not even what THEY expect. They are learning as they go (much like us parents.) 

Try your best to take it in stride. 

Find a strategy that works for you (and yes, that might include picking them up while they scream and leaving the scene…)

Watch it dissipate. Give one another time and connection and consistency to recalibrate and find your footing once again. 

Then take a breath, find a quiet place if you need to (bathroom, closet, car?) and regroup. 

Your kiddo is great and YOU are the parent they need. 

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