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Kids and Christmas

Kids and ChristmasKids and Christmas

For many kids, Christmas is the most exciting time of the year. Though each family may celebrate in a different way, the presence of Christmas is nearly inescapable for the better part of December. The anticipation of winter break from school, Christmas presents, and other festivities can substantially stretch the patience of most children as well as their parents. This can create a level of stress that is counterproductive to the holiday spirit and undermine the joy and peace that are attributed to this time of year.

Therefore, it’s helpful to plan for the days leading up to and after Christmas Day so that parents and their kids are able to enjoy the holiday season and not just the excitement of Christmas morning. This will encourage a calm and rewarding setting for the last month of the year for parents, kids, and Christmas to successfully coexist together.

Leading Up to Christmas Day

The days leading up to Christmas can seem endless, especially for little ones who haven’t developed skills to maintain patience or strategies for self-calming. This can result in episodes of acting out that are more numerous or intense, which can significantly increase stress for parents and the rest of the family. The potential cycle of unwanted behavior, flaring tempers, and household tension is likely to be exacerbated by the holiday demands of planning, shopping, baking, cooking, traveling, etc.

To avoid these negative feelings, parents can prepare for the long few days before Christmas so that their kids have an outlet for their excitement and anticipation. This is also a great opportunity to implement new family traditions across time. Here are some suggestions for engaging activities that are productive for both kids and their parents as December 25th approaches:

  • Card making: Almost all children enjoy creating artwork. Allowing them to make Christmas cards for family, friends, neighbors, or members of the community is a great way to keep them occupied and engaged. If you prefer not to have the mess of glue, glitter, or markers, consider buying a book of holiday stickers, some colorful paper, and a new box of crayons for simple and fun card making.
  • Dance party: If you have tasks to do such as wrapping gifts, making lists, or cooking, you can let your kids choose one or two holiday songs and let them create a dance routine. As they practice, they will have an outlet for their physical energy as well as an opportunity to showcase their creativity—and you may find a few extra minutes for holiday preparations.
  • Helping hands: Children love to be included and know that they are appreciated for their contributions. Though it may seem impractical, allowing them to help out with Christmas preparations can actually inspire them to be patient and calm in the time leading up to the big celebration. Parents can let their kids help sort wrapping paper or bows, be a “tape monitor,” sprinkle beads on cookies, or even fold napkins.

Here are some additional tips to help your kids manage stress and anticipation leading up to Christmas Day:

  • Keep as close to a regular routine as possible: This includes scheduled naps, activities, bedtimes, meals, etc. Routines provide a sense of structure and comfort during what may feel like some unpredictable days.
  • Keep hydrated, healthy eating habits, and rested: With all the excitement and potential sugar leading up to Christmas Day, it’s important for kids to drink plenty of water, eat healthy meals, and get enough quiet time and sleep. Be sure to keep screen-time within reasonable limits as well.
  • Keep measured expectations: During the Christmas season there are all sorts of holiday movies, television specials, and even commercials that portray perfectly decorated trees, homes, etc. Make sure that you differentiate for your children the “fantasy” media images and real-world expectations.
  • Keep perspective regarding Santa: It can be very tempting for parents to use “Santa” as leverage in terms of children’s behavior leading up to Christmas Day. This is a slippery slope for parents for two reasons. First, the “threat” of Santa not bringing gifts based on a child’s behavior loses its impact the more it’s given, and little children often don’t truly understand this connection between good behavior and Christmas presents. Second, parents may find themselves in an awkward position about gifts from Santa if the child continues to demonstrate unwanted behavior.

The tips suggested above are helpful for parents as well in the days leading up to Christmas. Parents certainly benefit from regular routines, hydration, healthy eating habits, and rest during the holidays. In addition, keeping realistic expectations reduces stress for the entire family. And when it comes to Santa, it’s also reasonable for parents to keep perspective and not overdo the amount or expense of Christmas presents.

The Days After Christmas

Of course, it’s also helpful for parents to be prepared for and understanding of the “let down” feelings that their kids may experience in the days after Christmas. After so much hype and excitement, the remaining December days can feel slightly empty and boring—even with new toys. Parents can help mitigate these feelings by planning some calm and quiet activities that are still fun. For example, taking a trip to the public library once it re-opens after Christmas is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon.

The days after Christmas are also a great opportunity for parents to encourage independent playtime for their kids. Setting them up with age-appropriate activities such as a puzzle is an excellent way to keep kids engaged and allow the family to unwind after Christmas.

One of the best ways to ensure that you and your kids have fond memories of Christmas is to focus on meaningful traditions and spending time together. At Cognisprings, we support parents looking for educational toys that encourage family togetherness as well as independent play. That’s why we provide games, books, and puzzles that are thoughtfully designed and unique to enhance children’s critical thinking, creativity, and curiosity. Our products allow families to connect and learn with each other in addition to creating lasting traditions and memories by prioritizing excellent options for screen-free fun, healthy cognitive development, creativity, and literacy skills. It is a joy to be part of your holiday fun!