When a holiday comes around there are many factors for a family to consider. After all, what should be an enjoyable time can end up in unwanted stress and pressure. When children are involved this can add an extra layer to special celebrations, religious traditions and national holidays.
In many cases the preparation and enthusiasm around holiday events creates a special environment where a child can participate even if they are not too familiar with the occasion. This makes for a unique opportunity adults can facilitate.
When dealing with children consistency and coherency are two crucial tools for parents and holidays are no exception. Keeping this in mind encourages a smooth transition to the different people, places and events a child might encounter.
Taking into account the age of the child and communicating in short clear phrases is a good start. Explaining situations to a child in a simple way, and reminding them that the parent will be around throughout the holiday is a way to foster trust and security. With just this information communicated, the child will feel like they are with someone in control and feel free to relax and observe the festivities.
It is important to keep in mind that children require a little more time than adults to adjust to transitions. By finding simple ways to ease them through these transitions they will end up more relaxed and receptive to new traditions, celebrations and people. Activities such as reading books about the particular celebrations or even letting the child create their own holiday story are a great way to teach them traditions in a seamless fashion. When it comes to much younger children they can use crayons or markers to create holiday cards for relatives.
In some cases there may come situations where a child is in a crowd or exposed to different kinds of religious imagery they may not be able to fully grasp. While many parents may feel the inclination towards finding a distraction, reverting to silliness or simply trying to make them not give in to an impulse to cry. This is all best avoided with preparation on the parents part which could mean making some difficult decisions about what kind of holiday traditions or environments may simply not be appropriate for a child.
In the cases of holiday travel, including a child in the packing process by giving them some options to pick from is a great way to show them how things will change, and prepare them for being somewhere different. Likewise, allowing a child to travel with a favorite toy sometimes helps them to feel security by having with them something that connects them to their home.
The same is true for different foods a child may try for the first time while on a holiday trip. Again, relying on communication and consistency paired with some forethought, such as bringing some foods they are familiar with along, can be very helpful is easing what can be an abrupt change. This kind of attention will make the child feel both included and secure in participating in the holiday.
Like most things, holidays also come to an end so it is equally important to have that in mind and communicate to the child how this period of festivities will come and go. Keeping some of the books and mementos of the holiday around a little bit past the actual date will help bridge their transition back to their regular life. One great example is keeping plastic Easter eggs as sand-box toys.
The periods of transition to different situations are where children can gain confidence, credibility and a sense of security. Remembering to respect a child’s transition can make all the difference having a memorable holiday.