1. In spite of the many and exciting holiday festivities, make sure your child's schedule is as consistent as possible. Children thrive on routine and knowing what to expect. They will be able to deal with stress better if their daily schedules remain as predictable as possible.
2. Good nutrition and exercise are excellent buffers against stress. Although time is more limited for meal preparation at this time of the year, try to limit prepackaged, convenience food and fast food resturants as much as possible. Find time for family outings which include exercise.
3. Arrange to spend some "down time" with your child each day in an activity that is not related to the holidays. This could include reading a book, playing a board game, working on a craft project, taking a walk together or just having a soothing cup of hot chocolate.
4. It is helpful when parents are able to manage their own stress. Children learn by what they see, and if you remain calm and relaxed, your child will probably also be more calm.
Let us know what you are doing to help your children deal with the stresses of the holidays. We'd love to hear from you! Dr. Bonnie S.