The cards are filling our mailboxes and the images are filling our social media. It’s a photograph of a wonder-filled child, surrounded by happy family, gazing at the splendor of lights against a dark sky. Who can resist this joyous portrayal of the winter holidays? Unfortunately, without proper preparation and planning, the holidays are much more likely to be chaos filled with meltdowns, tantrums and screaming. Happy Holidays indeed!
Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, the Solstice, Mawlid Un Nabi, Christmas or Kwanzaa, New Canaan Pediatrics can help your family get through this month happily, with all the joy the holidays should truly bring.
Regular sleep patterns make everything easier.
While baking with Grandma in the afternoon sounds fun and your family traditions may include opening gifts at midnight, your toddler is napping or sound asleep at those times. Explain to your relatives that your child simply cannot function on this timetable. Rescheduling events may cause the adults to grumble a bit, but when they see kids actually enjoying themselves when well rested, they will appreciate your stance.
It’s okay not to try the anchovy dip.
Toddlers, preschoolers and even children in elementary school may not want to try dishes that are intensely flavored, full of unfamiliar spices, fried or otherwise unusual to their palate. While culinary traditions are what bring families together, upset stomaches, vomiting and diarrhea do not. Remind your child – and the adults standing in front of them with sour cabbage on a fork – that they don’t have to eat anything they are not comfortable with.
Candy isn’t really so dandy.
Do a quick sweep when you enter a holiday gathering and move candy dishes, chips, and more out of reach of your children. When available in mass quantities, kids can stuff themselves with unhealthy treats that will irritate their stomachs and make their mood miserable too.
Let your child own their own space.
When relatives want to swoop down and hug, kiss or even pinch cheeks, be an advocate for your child. Encourage relatives to just say hello, perhaps play a game or read a story together. It’s important for today and as your child grows to have full control of access to their own body. Let your child know it’s okay to say “no” to anyone who is trying to touch them – and that you will stand by their feelings and decisions.
My infant, my rules.
When you have an infant, you are allowed to set the rules. Request that gatherings include only the fully vaccinated and healthy, and this doesn’t just mean the COVID vaccine. Make sure all children are fully vaccinated as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and adults have had a recent whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus booster. If you suspect someone in the group has a cold or the flu, protect your infant by quietly heading home. Make sure anyone who picks up or touches your baby has just washed their hands.
It’s okay to cut it short.
Your family doesn’t have to arrive at the start of the party and wait for the mass exodus to leave. Get there when it works for you and your kids. Leave when you sense your kids have had enough. Planning your day around your kids’ developmental abilities shows them you respect their health, their happiness and their joy in the holiday.
Putting your kids first at the holidays – before cookie baking, family dinners, pageants and parades – will help fill these days with more laughter and smiles than crying and tantrums.
Questions about your child’s health this holiday season? Access your New Canaan portal here and message your provider. We’ll be happy to help!