Suggested Email Message: Surviving the Holidays with Your Children

PresentOur gift to you this holiday season…

Tis the season for holiday hustle and bustle, but how are your children doing? The holiday time is not always merry and bright for young children. Adults are busy and frazzled, routines are disrupted, treats are plentiful, and even their house and classroom looks different with decorations and all this fuss! Attached you will find a wonderful article about how to help your child (and yourself!) during this season so you can all enjoy the holidays together. The article is a little lengthy, I know you are busy, but it’s worth the time. Another great strategy we use in the classroom for children of all ages is the FIRST:THEN plan. Talking with children (even the youngest toddlers) about what needs to happen first before a more desirable activity can occur is an effective way to neutralize power struggles. This can help you manage daily routines when life gets busy. Here are some examples: Your family has plans for a fun holiday party after a typical weekday. Your child does not want to go to school and is all about the party. Simply telling your child, “I know you are excited for the party, but today’s plan is FIRST SCHOOL, THEN PARTY.” Will help give you both a common ground and eliminate the urge to continue to dispute it. Your child is having trouble breaking away from the Christmas show on TV at dinnertime. Try giving them a time warning before turning the TV off, then tell them FIRST DINNER: THEN MORE SHOW when it’s time to transition. Some children need more concrete reminders of the FIRST:THEN rule. You can draw something on a dry erase board or piece of paper to illustrate the rule you’ve made. This is also great for reducing the nagging and using the picture to point to instead of saying the words over and over again. The “third party” visual cue helps fend off power struggles between children and adults. 

First/Then

Remember to give clear directions stated positively, can’t find the words to do that? Here are some examples…

TRY THIS

INSTEAD OF

THIS

“Use your eyes to look at the Christmas tree.” “Don’t touch the Christmas tree!”
“Slow feet in the house so we can keep ourselves and decorations safe!” “Don’t run!”
“Listen and then do so we can get our jobs done.”

"Santa is watching,

you better be good.”

“Use your gentle hands with our things so we can all enjoy the pretty decorations.”
“Let’s use our problem solving words with your sister so we can work together to have fun. Let’s start with figuring out what is the problem.”
“Thank you for helping with our chores, now we can enjoy the holidays together.” “Good little kids get presents.”

But most importantly, take care of YOURSELF this holiday season. We can only be patient with our children when we are at our best. Try to slow down, enjoy, and minimize holiday craziness so that everyone (big and small) can enjoy this special time of year.

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TACSEI Making Life Easier: Holidays – Strategies for Success