11. How to prepare your child for the excitement of the Christmas season

The Christmas period is just around the corner and the build up has begun with children seeing Christmas cards, gifts and toys in the shops, decorations, Christmas TV adverts and there children may be learning new songs and lines to learn in the school nativity or carol concerts.

Whether you and your family celebrate Christmas or not it is hard to avoid the buzz and stimulation around it with changes to routines, attending large crowded events like town centre Christmas light switch on’s, lots of noise, lights and although exciting it can be overwhelming and stressful for children and you may see a change in behaviour or may have to cope with more challenging behaviour.

We have put together a few tips and strategies to support you and your children through this period to avoid or support any emotional flooding and over excitement to help create a balance of a fun and magical experiences.

  • Expect more challenging behaviour and plan to keep to routines at home as much as possible such as bedtimes, storytime, quiet times, fresh air and exercise and healthy mealtimes.
  • Be realistic and manage expectations; talk to your child about what will happen in the run up to Christmas like changes at school, family visits, what they might see when visiting Santa (and what they want to take part in or not) so that they and you know what to expect.
  • Speak to your child’s school or nursery if they are concerned about changes of routine or different events so they can help prepare and support you and your child.
  • Avoid too much sugar! It is likely your child will be offered more sweet treats at Christmas (many have chocolate advent calendars to pen each day!) so try to keep these to a minimum and offered after a meal rather than snacked on throughout the day.
  • Try planning ahead by creating your own family countdown to Christmas chart or timetable that you could stick to the fridge door so that everyone can access it and see what is happening.
  • Involve them in making decorations for the home and helping to put up decorations.
  • Have a Christmas free zone (a quiet calm area with less stimulation) which will benefit everyone so on the big day (especially you) can have a bolt hole for a few moments of quiet. Try to practise some meditation or calming down techniques.
  • If your child is overwhelmed in the run up to Christmas and finds it all too much, make sure they have space for ‘quiet’ independent activities like reading, crafts, music or something that they enjoy where they can focus on something specific, immerse themselves and forget about the world around them for a short while. They may prefer outdoor time to burn off excited energy by playing with friends or going to the park.
  • Limit the number of gifts for children so they are not overwhelmed and will appreciate what they have more. It will also help your bank balance. If others have been kind enough to give to your child you may want to space out the giving over the day (or even days) to help them appreciate the presents and to spread out the excitement.

Above all, enjoy and embrace your child’s excitement in the festive season as they grow up so quickly. One day they will no longer be as excited or care for that visit to see Santa. They may well leave decorating the house and tree to you as they’d rather be on a phone or games console.

If you have any other ideas you would like to share please do contact us.

Please see our article on Cheap and easy Christmas presents and tips and strategies for every day during Advent.

Look out on our What’s Coming up for parents to book onto our programmes in the new year or to find out Where to meet us in your community.