Real Life Solutions With Dr. Linda Mintle

1. Last Christmas, we were really surprised by how poorly our children behaved when we visited our families. I know they are toddlers, but they really acted up. We’d like to do a little prevention this year so we don’t repeat last year. Any ideas would be appreciated.

Remind yourself that during the holidays, kids are out of their routine, sleep in strange beds, get little sleep, eat too much sugar, and get a lot of attention from family members. This disruption of normal can lead to acting out more than usual. Planning ahead is a good idea. The best prevention is to try and stick with some type of schedule—feed the kids at regular times even when there is a late or special meal, get them to bed no matter their begging to stay up late because you recognize how sleep deprivation influences their behavior, take naps to handle less sleep, monitor their food intake rather than giving them free reign to cookies and desserts, allow for some quiet and down time in a room by themselves, and nip whining and begging in the bud so they don’t escalate to tantrums. There is a fine line between excitement and melt down! If you need to discipline, don’t hesitate. Take them into another room and reinforce your rules and expectations and consequences. And it really helps to get them outside to play whenever possible. I also like structured activities like crafts and games. Even though you may feel this is your time to relax because you are in the home of your parents, stay on top of your children and let them know that they are not allowed to wander the house and do what they please. I’ve seen too many parents collapse at their parents’ houses because of exhaustion and needing a break, and then let the kids do whatever. This is not good for the kids and places an undo burden on grandparents. So even though it is a holiday and you are on vacation, stay consistent and involved even when grandparents and relatives are enjoying your kids. It will make everything go so much better.

Resource: You can’t make me (but I can be persuaded), revised by Cynthia Tobias (Waterbrook, 2012).

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