christmas-tree-23384_1280Have you looked at your calendars lately? Christmas is coming! I absolutely love the Christmas holidays, just ask anyone in my family! I love the spirit, the decorations, the smells, time with family, and the time to focus on the most meaningful things. Our family has many traditions that I just love and we have made wonderful memories. But that does not mean that holidays have always been calm and stress free times in our home. Having children with challenges always adds a different dimension.
Added stresses, crazy schedules, and all the extra food have often caused issues with behaviour in our children at this time of year.

How can we actually get to enjoy this time with potential behaviour issues in our children who struggle? Besides being organized yourself and reducing your demands to make time for the most important things, here are a few suggestions to help make this holiday a bit easier for you and your children who may need extra help.

Four things to help children with challenges enjoy the holidays:

  1. Keep a schedule 
    • Try not to be overly stressed about this but if you have one later night for example, try to have them get to bed on time the next night. You can set an a
      pproximate time for going to bed such as between 7 and 8 (depending on ages) and then not be so strict about it being an exact time that you become stressed or frustrated. Try to help teenagers make wiser choices as well. They will not be happy if you expect them to get up at the crack of dawn, but try to have things for them to do so they do not sleep the whole day.  
    • The important thing to remember is “flexible structure” or “structured flexibility”. Have a plan in place and try to follow it, but be flexible enough to enjoy your time together.
  2. Watch the treats
    • Allow special treats and foods but don’t let them go overboard, especially with sugar. You don’t want to be the “food police” but try to help your children control what they eat and when they eat it.  
  3. Limit screen time
    • Do things together instead of using electronic devices – play games, make a puzzle, sing carols, go to a museum or performance, go geocaching, do word searches, Sudoku or mazes, or bake a special holiday treat.  
  4. Get some physical activity every day
    • Outside activity if possible! Go for a walk, shovel snow, go skating, swim at the local pool, build a snowman, go rock climbing, play indoor mini putt, play ping pong. Physical activity has positive effects on mental and emotional well-being.

I hope your holidays will be a memorable time for your family!  I would love to hear other suggestions of how to help families cope over the holidays.  Post your strategies in the comments section below!