By Jenina Madrid

Special to Delta County Independent

It is no surprise that Thanksgiving and the winter holidays are fast approaching. Reminders let us know months in advance with Christmas ornaments peeking between gleaming pumpkins, smiling turkeys and autumn leaves in stores. As soon as the Halloween costumes and candy are stored away, suddenly we find ourselves with thoughts of turkey dinners, cards, relatives, presents and shopping. With the holiday rush, we become stressed multitaskers.

But why are holidays so tense for parents and kids? That’s because expectations are heightened, making everything feel like a test of how joyful and successful the family is.

Here are simple tips to help minimize stress during the holidays for both parents and kids:

1. Be open to change.

Parents try exploring with your children about family traditions (What are some traditions they love? Which tradition would you like to adapt for it to be more memorable for everyone?). Talking with your children about family traditions might be important when family dynamics have changed due to divorce, a new marriage/relationship/sibling, or a death in the family.

2. Be realistic.

Knowing your kids’ limitations when you make plans can help to reduce stress on everyone. For example, children who are anxious about meeting new people (or meeting extended family members) will need more support and different expectations than your more outgoing children. Children who tend to be impulsive often need structure to minimize disruptive behavior.

3. Let your children know the changes in routine.

Holidays often change a family’s normal schedule, and for some kids, that’s unsettling. To prevent meltdowns and arguments, prepare your children about the changes, such as letting them know what to anticipate and what you expect of them.

4. Take a break!

It’s very easy for parents (and even kids) to want to create the “best” holiday season. Decide what is important, prioritize and set a boundary (or say “no”) to what you can’t handle. We can also take a break by doing mindfulness and exploring gratitude to be more in touch with the small things that make all the difference.

5. Be sure to laugh.

Children are sensitive to parents’ stress and tension. They’re likely to be just as irritable as you are. Laugh with your kids and enjoy the moment. Keep in mind that what you’ll probably remember the little unexpected moments with family more than the perfect dinner party or outing. (Child Mind Institute)

During the Thanksgiving and holiday rush, people often lose connection with the present moment (what you are thinking and feeling right now) and become so focused on the near future that we overlook the little details that make life meaningful. Hopefully by managing our stress and pausing on Thanksgiving Day, we realize that the reminders of gratitude are there each and every day for the noticing.

Want to share your best stress reliever or your best attitude for gratitude? Let us know and call A Kidz Clinic at 970-874-2753!

Jenina Madrid, LPC, is with A Kidz Clinic.

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