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Tips for Managing Holiday Stress with Kids

The holidays can be a magical time, filled with fun traditions and time spent making memories with loved ones. As adults, we’re no strangers to the stress that can sometimes stem from trying to make it all come together perfectly. Add the demands of caring for young children, and your holiday can easily go from wonderful to overwhelming.

Children can sense our stress and become just as frazzled with the frantic pace we set during the holidays. This may cause temper tantrums, interrupted sleep schedules and upset stomachs.

Here are a few simple tips for managing holiday stress with kids:

  • Talk to them. Explain plans for the day in advance, so kids know what to expect. For example, “We’ll be going to Aunt Lucy’s after lunch and staying until after it’s dark outside.”
  • Stick to a routine. It can be hard to stay on schedule when you’re traveling or hosting holiday gatherings. When it’s possible, try to follow your child’s normal schedule, including meals and naptimes.
  • Let children help. It can be easy to ignore children when you’re caught up in holiday plans, but that only increases the risk for a meltdown. Children are more likely to cooperate if you include them in your plan, and you may even find that you are less stressed with the extra help.
  • Plan ahead. A big part of holiday stress involves traveling, and that can mean long waits. Waiting is especially hard for children, so plan in advance to have games and other distractions on hand. Bring a favorite stuffed animal or blanket to help make far away places feel more familiar. And don’t forget to have healthy snacks on hand at all times. A hungry child is usually an uncooperative child.

Follow these tips for a happier, more relaxed holiday for everyone in your family. If you or someone in your family is looking for a pediatrician or family doctor, visit Riley at IU Health or Indiana University Health to locate expert, compassionate care.

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