5 Proven Ways To Build Resilience In Your Child
Navigating The Holiday Season With High Sensitivity or Additional Needs
The holidays are a beautiful, exciting and overwhelming season.We have visions of picture-perfect decorations, yummy food & extended time with friends and relatives.Although this can be a time of the year that we really look forward to, it can also be a time of stress, frustration and challenge.This is particularly true when we are raising a highly sensitive child, or a child who has additional needs.The holidays are filled with endless activities, new sights and smells, & unpredictable rhythms – all of which are challenging for these children.This often turns our perfect vision of a beautiful holiday season into a reality of negative emotional meltdowns.The truth is, with some intention & for-thought, it is possible to have a beautiful holiday season with your child.
NAVIGATING THE HOLIDAY SEASON WITH HIGH SENSITIVITY OR ADDITIONAL NEEDS –
1 Adjust Your ExpectationsMany of the activities that you would love to do, or that your friends are doing, will be too much for your child.Despite your visions of enjoyable activities & special treats, many of these situations will be so overwhelming for your child, that they won’t have the capacity to cope with. This is when the challenging behavior (such as aggressive or emotional meltdowns) increases.It can be frustrating when you personally wanted to do specific things to celebrate the holidays, that your child just isn’t coping with. But it’s important to remember that your child does have some limitations and challenges that don’t change just because it’s the holidays.
2 Decide What’s Most Important To YouWhile keeping your child’s needs in mind, consider what is most important to you and your family during this holiday season.You won’t be able to do “all the things”, so consider what are the main things that are most important to you.Many times our vision of exciting experiences are because we want to create special memories and a deep connection with our family. But is it possible to still create these memories & connection a different way?
3 In The Absence Of Routine, Increase Front-LoadingSensitive children and those with additional needs, thrive on routine.They need to know what’s going to happen next, so that they can prepare themselves for the transition.Having a routine in your home gives your child a sense of certainty and security.During the holiday season (where the daily predictable routine is often absent), you can still give your child this sense of certainty by increasing front-loading.Front-loading is communicating to your child what is happening, before it happens.eg. in 10 minutes we will be getting dressed so that we can go to Grandma’s house.For younger children, just share a few steps ahead of what’s currently happening.For older children, you may tell them the whole day’s plans the night before it happens.The more predictability you can give your child in an unpredictable season, the more they will thrive.
4 Increase White SpaceLong shopping sessions at the mall, flashing Christmas lights, exciting gifts and activities are highly stimulating to your child.They may LOVE these things, but if we allow them endless exposure to this, it will only end negatively.Sensitive children and those with additional needs need space and quiet to decompress.Neurologically they are naturally taking in more stimulation from the situation than others take in. This can become quickly overwhelming.During the holiday season, increase the white space for your child – give them permission to escape to their room during family gatherings, or schedule days off after a busy few days of activities.These small changes can make a huge difference to how your child will emotionally cope.
5 Create Your Own Family TraditionsWhen it comes to the holidays, sometimes we can create a list of things that will make the season ‘special’, but often our children have their own ideas about what they love the most.Many times it is the simple things that we don’t even think about.Make sure you check in with your family about what they love the most about the holidays, & give yourself permission to create your own traditions that work for your family (rather than trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing). Navigating the holiday season with a highly sensitive child or a child with additional needs, can be challenging at times, but with some intention & for-thought you can create a beautiful season of special memories and connection together.