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10 Little Parenting Hacks to Skip Behavior Challenges During the Holidays

The holiday season is a time for family and friends to get together and celebrate. But ask any parent and they’ll tell you how it’s also a time for children to get off track. Busy days, a change in the season and festivities full of harried parents can leave children feeling a little left out. The perfect and only attention-grabbing tool they have is to act out, so they do.

This is why Bright Side thought of listing out some tips and tricks that parents use to keep their kids happy and tantrum-free during the holidays. And they make perfect sense too.

1. Set daily agendas of how the day will unfold.

Not all children like surprises. So when it comes to the holidays and the rather busy schedule of gift-giving and receiving, it’s best to let your children know what the plans for the day are. Take their opinion and let them have a little say where you can. They may not want to traipse halfway across town just because you have to.

If you are being visited by someone they actively dislike, perhaps they can spend more of their time in their room, writing letters to Santa instead of sulking in the living room with everyone else. Give them a little choice when you can and make sure to discuss each day in the morning once to let them know what is non-negotiable and where they do have a bit of leverage.

2. Bedtimes need to remain non-negotiable.

Sleepy children make for cranky children, but even more than that, adequate sleep is super-important for healthy child development. So even if your children want to stay up with their older cousins all night, put your foot down. They may throw a hissy fit at bedtime, but better that than a whole day of crankiness the next day.

Read them a bedtime story, or get their older cousins to prank them into falling asleep, pretending tiredness themselves to get the job done. And in case your children did not get enough sleep the night before, put them down for a nap in the day and take a power nap yourself to refresh.

3. Carry snacks and games in the car.

Whether it’s a long-distance road trip you are on to visit the family or just a bunch of little trips to a million little things, kids tend to get bored on the drive. And when children are bored, they will act out, fight, and get temperamental. So carry a little home with you on the road, along with a ton of patience, of course. Games, electronics, snacks, and books are a good way to keep kids busy on the road.

4. Give children a 15-minute transition heads-up.

As adults, we can adapt more quickly to situations. So goodbyes come easy to us, but it’s not the same for children. For instance, if you are visiting with relatives, and your children are meeting up with kids their age, it’s not so easy for them to do a fly-by. Children take time to open up and get comfortable, and by the time they do, it could be time to leave.

Make sure to tell your children what the duration of your visit is going to be, and also make sure to give them a 15 to 20-minute heads-up before it’s time to leave.

5. Pick your battles and let kids have their way sometimes.

Your child is a little adult with their own opinions. And while parents do know best, we cannot always be dictatorial in discipline, especially during the holidays. So let the kids get away with a few things, like an extra cookie, more playtime, a day off from studies, and even cereal for dinner. By letting your children assert themselves now and then, you tell them that they matter. And this way, you can pick your battles for something more important later on.

6. Keep your cool as an adult when the kids have a meltdown.

Children have difficulty processing emotions the right way, and when things get confusing for them, it comes out as anger. We all dread a Christmas morning scene where one of the kids throws a tantrum, or worse, gets the gift they didn’t like and storms off.

It’s easy for even adults to lose their temper, but before you do, remember that you are the adult. Instead of giving the child a time out or punishment, talk to the child. Make them understand how their actions can hurt other people’s feelings. Dig deeper to see why the child felt so deeply about the issue, whatever it may be, and help them sort out their emotions into anger, disappointment, sadness, or more.

7. Lay down ground rules for grandparents and families.

For a child, Christmas is about the gifts piled under the tree in the morning — that, along with the cookies, of course. That being said, as a parent, it’s your right to choose what gifts should be given to your child, depending on your parenting style. You may not want them to have expensive electronics, and sometimes, grandparents can tend to dote on just one child, making the others feel left out.

8. Burn off sugar rushes and energy highs.

With a ton of holiday food and cheer around, children can get hyperactive. In fact, lack of exercise can also make them hyper, something parents blame on a “sugar rush.” While exercise and stepping out in the yard may seem like a colossal waste of time to you, given there is so much to do, take a breather.

Go out with the kids and let them play their little bodies out. Join them if you can. Once they burn off all the stress and energy, they’ll be ready for some hearty dinner and a quiet night under the covers with some TV before bedtime.

9. Involve the children in holiday rituals and activities.

Depending on their age and dexterity levels, along with interest, kids can turn into your most dedicated helpers during the holidays. Have one deck the tree, and another can draw or write the thank you cards. The most creative one can pack some gifts, or the foodie can help you with cooking.

You can form special rituals with your children too, getting as artsy and crafty as you can. Having something to do keeps the children busy and all the attention they get makes for happier children and happier holidays.

10. Work less and spend more time with your children.

Having the most beautiful tree, the fanciest lights or the most delicious of food is a great feeling during the holidays. But if you end up ignoring your children to achieve all this, it can all boil down to nothing. The holiday season should be a time when we reconnect with family and give time to our children.

Spending time with children is not just important for the bond parents share with their kids, but it also aids in child development in so many different ways. It helps them communicate, be more confident and secure, and even encourages positive behavior. So make this holiday season a family affair. A clean house can wait.

What tricks have you tried to get the best out of your children during the holiday season? Which of these tips do you plan on using to make your holiday time the best ever with your children?

Psst! Bright Side has real quizzes now. We publish new ones daily. Go check them out.

Please note: This article was updated in December 2021 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.
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