Okay, so it’s Christmas and the family are coming – or maybe you are going there. Maybe, your family are already with you. Mo matter how you’re set up for the holidays, the pressure is undoubtedly ‘on’: gift giving, food, more food and lots of time spent together with people you might not see during the rest of the year.
I’ll bet there’s a whole lot of sugar in the goodies you’ve baked or bought too. That brings us nicely to kids (sugar always brings us to kids), expectations for the gatherings and how to navigate what we all hope is a wonderful time, but perhaps secretly fear may end in fraught confrontations and disappointment.
For Adults and kids
– If it’s not too late, limit the sugar in your menu. Not only will your dentist appreciate the nod, but your kids are less likely to ping off the walls when your guests arrive. It helps your overall tired / awake balance too. Sugar crashes really are the worst. Spread out the desserts and don’t overwhelm!
– If you can set boundaries for your guests, they will have something to work with. People who are given established boundaries tend to be better equipped that those who have no common understanding of the day’s plan.
– For example, if you have specific activities in mind, let your family and guests know ahead of time what those are and when you anticipate doing them.
– If you have a fractious group coming together, it may help to state what topics are off the table for discussion today. Be as detailed as you think you need to be. Then, if the discussion goes down a path you have already asked to be avoided, you can remind people not to go there. It’s a lot easier to pre-empt the hostile discussions about family black sheep, national politics, and other touchy subjects if you have already called them out and vetoed them for today.
– Alcohol could be spaced out, water provided between alcoholic drinks and food to help keep the intoxicating effects to a minimum. This has the advantage of reducing costs and likely helps with the previous tip 😉
Adults interacting with Kids
– Remember, your child has little control over what happens in their lives (being so small and child-y) but something they need to know from you is that their body IS theirs to control. Contact is not mandatory for them any more than it is for you. I’d like to elaborate here:
This tip is REALLY important and yes, potentially controversial.
– Adults DO NOT get to hug and kiss a reluctant child. Being forced or coerced into close contact with adults when the child clearly does not willingly do so leads to disempowerment. This leads to such HUGE issues for kids later in life. A couple of examples are lack of strong sense of self (which may result in poor choices with their bodies) and people pleasing.
– Holidays are the ideal time to quietly let grandparents, aunts, uncles, whomever know that if little Cece says she does not want to kiss / hug them, then she will not be forced to do so. If Johnny shrinks away from the hug, that is his legitimate option to do so.
– Respecting your child’s right to define who touches their own body and personal space reinforces their right to do so, their choice in the matter, and the power over what happens to them.
– Openly support your child. After all, if Grandma is offended by a kiss refusal, then she is the one that needs to work on understanding boundaries. It is not your child’s responsibility to be the adult here.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday time with minimal stress and happy kids.
Let me know which tips you tried and what worked best for you.