How To Handle Holiday Meltdowns and Enjoy The Holiday Season

Written by Karli Steenkamp 

This year has come and gone in a blink of an eye. Everyone is still trying to rush and finish off work before getting into holiday mode. Christmas is a time where you need to reset, rest and enjoy the festivities. However, it can be wonderful or insanely chaotic that you count down the days when the kids go back to school. Let’s face it, during these holidays there are going to be tantrums, tears and screaming. There are a few things you can do to try and avoid the inevitable meltdowns and enjoy the holiday. 

One thing kids thrive on is routine. It makes them feel grounded to know exactly what is happening next and when. During the festive season, we often neglect keeping to routine due to various reasons. You are more relaxed or you have many parties, shopping or activities, resulting in a more casual routine. We don’t always understand the breakdowns or the reasons for it, but more often than not, if a child is unsettled, it is usually because of a difference in routine. It is not always possible to stick to your normal day-life activities. Try to keep to your normal routine as much as possible. Even if it is just in the order that you do things, such as eat, bath, read and sleep.  

Make sure that your child gets enough sleep. A child can’t cope when they are tired or hungry – this makes them cranky, anxious and over-emotional. Try and keep to the times your child usually eats and sleeps. It is crucial for everyone’s sanity that your child has a nap. Limit the sweets and sugar that can make them hyper. 

Plan ahead these holidays. This enables you to communicate with your child and explain to them what the day holds and where and what you will be doing. Try your best to stick to that schedule because your child is prepared for what is happening. Planning will also help you know what to pack, such as extra clothes or a snack. 

Give them a little bit of control. Make them choose what they want to wear or what shop you want to go. They will feel appreciated and happy to have contributed in the decision-making of the day’s activities.  

Try and avoid situations where tantrums can start. if you go to the shops and there’s a toy store that your child loves and you don’t have time to go in there, choose a different route to avoid that shop. When you are at home, make sure the things your child is not allowed to play with, are well hidden. If you see a tantrum is about to start, try and distract your child by changing the subject and focusing on something else. It will work at least once. 

Pick your battles. When your child gets into a difficult mood or does something you feel they shouldn’t, ask yourself if it is worth the fight because in ten minutes there might be something else to fight about. It might feel as if all you do is fight, but ensure that you praise them when they do something good. Embrace and reward good behaviour so that they see your appreciation for it. 

A busy child is a happy child. Choose activities to keep your child busy. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to do fun things. Crafts and painting presents for family members is a fun activity. Movie marathons with snacks and baking cookies are always a treat.  

The festive season doesn’t have to feel like you need a holiday after the holidays. Keep things normal as much as possible with plenty of sleep and things to do. When your child has a meltdown, don’t make it worse by reacting to it. Calm down and keep yourself busy while not giving attention to the tantrum. Kids miss the interaction with their friends and the stimulation of their everyday lives. Enjoy the holidays with your little ones; you can never get that holiday back with them being little.