Keeping the Holidays Calm for Young Children

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

By Lynne Mueller, Head of School

Between now and the end of the year, all of us will be spending a lot of time celebrating. No sooner after cleaning up the the last bits of Thanksgiving leftovers are the December holidays upon us. December is a fun and joyous time of the year, but also very busy with some stress and anxiety.

If you think the festivities are stressful for you, children can also be impacted by the flurry of activities and social commitment. Irregular schedules, excessive eating, and stimulating social events can make children feel unsettled and out of whack, resulting in some degree of holiday stress.

Unlike adults, young children do not have the tools to always cope with an unstructured lifestyle since they thrive on routine. Also, children in the early years have limited holiday experiences. Although by age two they know holidays are special, young children have not had enough holiday experiences to fully remember and understand what that means for them. Anticipation of unknown events can get children overly excited and even anxious.

To help your children get the most out of this time of year, I recommend that you prepare them. If you celebrate Thanksgiving, take some time this week to share family Thanksgiving photos from last year and talk about how your family celebrated. Do not do this too early, since young children do not yet have a sense of conventional time.

The more you can bring these holidays alive for your children before they occur, the better equipped they will be to adjust to changes in their routine and the more each member of your family can enjoy this special time of the year.