Kiss Goodbye to Holiday Stress

Christmas Window

Kids and the Stress of the Holidays…

I know, what stress is it when you are a kid and looking forward to gifts and toys and all kinds of stuff that comes along with Christmas and Hanukah and other gift giving holidays?

The best way I think we can go about figuring out what might bother our particular children is to look at what bothers us and look back at what we “hated” about the holidays when we were their age.

Looking back with empathy…

Here are some of my memories…

  • I hated leaving my own house on Christmas Day to visit relatives…Christmas Eve was okay but leave me alone with my gifts and my grandmother’s, who lived with us  food on Christmas.
  • Now my parents were divorced so it was somewhat contentious when I did not want to go visiting on Christmas. I was made to feel guilty for not wanting to dress up and go to my father’s family.
  • I hated some of the awful presents that I received year after year from relatives who will remain nameless. Usually they were “regifts” like gloves that were too big and other awful stuff.
  • I also hated having to kiss and hug various relatives that I hardly ever saw except for the Holidays.

Now granted I am a grandmother and I imposed some of my family rituals on my own kids but not many …we always had Christmas at home.

However, Christmas Eve was another story…we spent many Christmas Eves with a family that has adopted us since our own family is across the country.

Here are some holiday simplifying suggestions from our Montessori school, for you and your children…the kids may actually thank-you with their good behavior.

  • Keep your television off as much as possible- your house will be quieter and the advertising will be less. Hopefully it will decrease how much you here these words…”I want…”
  • Try to simplfy your own holiday expectations which might lighten your mood which is a wonderful gift to yourself and your family.
  • Consider saying the word “No” more often when it comes to traveling…going to other homes for Christmas Day…no, to too many parties, decorations, too much food, too many presents. If there is something that you don’t like…try saying, “NO”.
  • Consider being more “Green” when it comes to wrapping paper, cards and food. It is a good thing to teach your children and it is a way to limit some of the “stuff” that is just not important and that may just be driving you crazy.
  • Gifts take on a life of their own during the Holidays…try asking for gifts to your children’s college fund instead of a gift that your child does not really need.
  • Family traditions…you might want to begin some of your own traditions…you do not have repeat the traditions that you grew up with and those that your partner grew up with…how crazy does that get? Develop some of your own traditions that can combine what you both like best and that your kids like.
  • Now about those holiday hugs and kisses…your child should not have to hug and kiss all relatives and friends that he does not even know or remember. What is this telling him…it is telling him this, when he is uncomfortable with certain people touching him…it is okay for him to just say hello and nothing else. Consider the message that we are teaching our kids and then leave the hugging and kissing up to them.

 

Temper Tantrum

NOTEWORTHY WEDNESDAY!

Temper Tantrums

Tantrums are not easy to deal with…even though you love your child and grandchild to the moon and back!

During a tantrum you might want to send them to the moon!

It sometimes can seem that they are possessed by something or someone when having a tantrum…but who or what has set this usually charming child into an uncontrollable rage?

We have experienced our share of tantrums in our house…and what I have learned as a grandmother I only wish that I knew as a mom of two children less than two years apart in age.

There is always one or two events that stand out in the family tantrum history…one was my own memory of tearing a newspaper to shreds when my working mother told me she had not brought me home anything from work that evening. I was not so much spoiled as I was unhappy that she forgotten about me. I was left alone until I calmed down and the paper was completely shredded.

With my own kids…the sentinel tantrum was one at the entrance to the Miami Zoo when my younger daughter did not want to go and see any animals. She was around 3 years old.  We were hoping to have a family outing on a very hot Miami day.

I recall trying the old standby…”bye, we are leaving…you can stay here if you want”. Is that wishful thinking on the part of parents during a horrible tantrum.

Of course, nothing worked until she was ready to put her anger aside after what seemed an eternity. We then visited a pond where the resident Koi made us all laugh as they fought over food that visitors were encouraged to throw into theirwater. It was the Koi version of ‘Hunger Games“.

Usually temper tantrums and anger in children is induced by stress. Young children do not know how to handle stress and do not have the verbal skills to explain why they are so upset.

Even if they try to tell a grown up …commonly it is about something that many times parents do not have patience to listen to nor attempt to understand.

I am no different. At least I wasn’t when my kids were young.

Anger in children often comes from stress. Yes. Stress is part of a child’s life as much as it is a part of an adult’s life. Teaching a child how to handle stress is one of the best things we as parents can do for our children. A healthy dose of stress actually builds resilience …and optimism. At the same time, parents must also be aware that anger is a sign of child anxieties. There are ways to address child anxieties.

via Anger in Children: Whats Normal and Whats Not!.

I am happy to report I am different with my granddaughter…thank you, Dr. Harvey Karp and your book, “Happiest Toddler on the Block

The most important thing to keep in mind when you’re faced with a child in the throes of a tantrum, no matter what the cause, is simple and crucial: Keep cool. Don’t complicate the problem with your own frustration. Kids can sense when parents are becoming frustrated. This can just make their frustration worse, and you may have an escalated tantrum on your hands. Instead, take deep breaths and try to think clearly. via Temper Tantrums.
Dr. Karp’s advice is simple and easy to follow. It is called the “fast food rule
Follow the Fast-Food Rule. This rule is simple: When your child is upset, you should take a lesson from the order-takers at a burger joint — always repeat back his “order” (what he wants) before you tell him your “price” (what you want). Toddlers who are in the middle of a meltdown are incapable of hearing our message (our reasons, reassurance, distraction or warning) until they’re sure we understand and respect their message. So when your tot is upset, before you mention your ideas, take a minute to sincerely describe what he’s doing and how you think he feels.

Janet Lansbury who writes her own blog has this to say to a mom regarding tantrums. In this particular situation there is a ‘new baby’ that a toddler is trying to accept.

Don’t feel responsible when your daughter doesn’t get her way and falls apart…. What she needs most of all (especially right now) are confident, stable, unruffled parents who project calm in the face of her storms (and the freedom you are giving her to have them).

Clarify the situation and make a plan. During more peaceful moments together, talk about life after new baby. Give her details about the changes that will occur, an imagined play-by-play of the day with the new baby.  Be honest and realistic.  Toddlers are way too perceptive to believe any whitewashing, and that won’t help her feel settled.  Tell her that although you will be very busy taking care of the baby and not be available for her all the time, you’ll make sure she always gets what she needs (through daddy, grandma, etc.). Tell her that you two will have some special time together each day and maybe once (or twice) a week a special outing that she picks.

Then, later, when you are busy with the baby and she’s upset you can say to her calmly and confidently, “I know you want me to do such-in-such with you now, but I can’t. I know it’s hard to wait, but we will have our time together in an hour (or whatever). I’m looking forward to it.”  She may have to keep testing that limit until she is certain you will hold your ground.

If you can make the outings work, I highly recommend them, even if you can only give her a choice between a walk down the street and a half-hour outing to the park. It’s not about what you do (or even the amount of time), just about being together. From my experience, those little one-on-one dates with your big girl will be very special, just the way dinner dates with a husband feel extra special once you’ve become parents.

Encourage her to process the feelings. Another thing to do in peaceful moments together is to check in with her about her feelings.  The goal is not to get her to label them, but to assure her that anything and everything she is feeling is normal, expected, perfectly all right.  You might put it this way, “When children have a baby brother or sister they have all kinds of feelings.

via Positive Parenting In The Tantrum Zone | Janet Lansbury.

What do you find helpful when dealing with a tantrum?

How often does your little one have a ‘meltdown’?

I would be interested in hearing your personal experiences.

Stress Busting and Parenting….

stress busting

Parents and stress…oh my this is such a topic.

Long hours…little recognition for all that parenting entails

No one can really tell you what it will be like…being responsible for a child

And when some one does try…their words may fall on our deaf ears

What it will be like if you decide to have more than one

I always say in my experience when it comes to children 2 was more than double 1

It is an exponential experience

Simply, stress is part of life and parenting

As parents, trying to manage stress is up to us

It is when we manage our stress that we teach our children how to manage theirs

So here are some of my personal suggestions.

  • Breathe…try to concentrate on breathing when things are particularly stressful at a given moment. This practice always helps me gain some composure and control.
  • Sleep…get enough of it…replenish yourself regularly…most of us do not allow ourselves to sleep enough…we consider it a luxury when it is a necessity…come on… we all know this…don’t we?
  • Exercisewalk…park your car farther away from the store…run when you could walk…I’m always surprised at the opportunities I miss to exercise even a little during each day.
  • Eat…when I watch what I eat I feel better…treat yourself once a day to something special…a piece of chocolate or a cup of tea. Take the time to savor whatever it is…eat it mindfully and really enjoy that moment.

Stress will follow us around unless we do battle with it.

I do battle with it every day.

It never gives up and I try not to either.