Imagine if you were on your way to work and you got a flat tire. It made you take extra time in your commute, pay a cost you didn’t budget for that month, arrive late to work, miss your meeting, and your whole day was thrown off. Children may not have the same busy-filled workdays that adults do, but they still thrive on routine and consistency. Whether they are aware of it or able to express it, they are in tune and respond when their routine is not followed. We may see this through their behaviors or big emotions, and think they are “misbehaving” when, in reality, they have that “thrown off” feeling and don’t have the tools or language to express it.
As you go into the holiday season with all the fun parties, gifts, traveling, busy schedules, and changes in schedules, keep your child's perspective in mind. Put yourself in their shoes. They may get very excited to go on an airplane or to make holiday treats, but they also may become more easily frustrated, anxious, or upset from many factors. It is very common for the many activities to feel overwhelming, causing a transition from feeling excited to feeling anxious. It could simply be the unknown. They don’t know what to expect because they are in a new place or not in their new routine, so they don’t know how to respond. Or they may be over-tired from less sleep or overstimulation, and we all know that we may not show our best selves when we are overtired.
Take time to prepare your child for these experiences as best as you can. Simply give them a heads up, “today I’m getting ready for our party. I will be spending a lot of time cooking in the kitchen and won’t be able to play with you, but I will be excited to play with you tomorrow after our company leaves.” You can also help prepare them for new environments by revisiting the rules that still apply in different places/with different people. Sometimes simple is all you need. Although they are children, they still experience many of the same emotions and reactions that we as adults do, and the best thing we can do is put ourselves in their shoes. What would help us in those times? Knowing that the day is going to look different can lessen the reactions we may have. Children crave consistency and stability, to help them feel secure and comfortable in various environments.
In Pursuit of Balance, we have our POB Practices that help us to stay aligned and balanced throughout life. Focused Breathing and Mantra are two POB practices that help me, personally, stay my course when my routine is off and these are two practices that young children are capable of learning as well! Lastly, remember that rest time is very important for all - adults and children.
I hope you enjoy this wonderful holiday season with your loved ones!