The holidays bring lots of changes to the life of your toddler.
1) Change of their schedule.
If your toddler normally goes to daycare or has a babysitter, it is a change to be at home with mom/dad. The routine of their day will be different. There is no rushing off to work for mom/dad in the morning.
The days will bring the uncertainty of not knowing what is happening next. Meals and play activities will be at different times. Toddlers love knowing that things happen in a routine or order. During the holidays there might not be a routine.
2) Change of diet.
The holidays tend to bring more sugar and treats in your toddler’s diet. Many families have traditional holiday food which is only eaten at this time of the year. Cookies and candy are available at parties or other events. The increased sugar can make some children very active or hyper. The spike and then drop of their blood sugar affects their behavior. The toddler might have a more difficult time managing their emotions or impulses.
3) Change of environment.
Many families travel or have visitors over the holidays. This might mean an unfamiliar bed or room for sleep. The sights and sounds might all be different.
4) Change from receiving gifts.
Your toddler may receive a lot of new toys. That is exciting but it can also be overstimulating for a toddler. The toddler may feel overwhelmed with the number of them. There might be the disappointment of not receiving a toy the child really wanted or the challenge of having to share their toys with another child.
5) Change of meeting new family and friends.
Your toddler might see family members that you usually only see once per year. They will feel like strangers to your toddler. It can be overwhelming to a small child when these unfamiliar people want to hold, touch or talk with them.
How can you help your toddler deal with all these changes during the holiday season?
My number one tip is to keep your toddler well rested during the holidays. Make sleep a priority. If you have to skip their nap, make sure your child is able to get an early bedtime.
It is much easier for your toddler to manage all the holiday changes if they have had enough sleep.
A tired child tends to be a grumpy child. Lack of sleep leads to temper tantrums and melt downs. No parent wants to impress the relatives with their child having a temper tantrum in the middle of the family gathering.
Prevent problems by giving your child a nap before the party or family gathering. It will be much more enjoyable for everyone.
If your child is getting tired or overwhelmed, it is good to remove the toddler from the situation before the melt down happens. Watch your child for the early signs of tiredness or needing a break from the situation. Some children are more sensitive to over stimulation than others.
If you are traveling, try to bring familiar bedtime items: their pj’s and their lovey item like a blanket or stuffed animal. Don’t forget to bring their familiar white noise from home.
Make their room dark to promote sleep in an unfamiliar place.
Encourage unfamiliar people to approach your child slowly to let the child adjust. Your toddler will look at your face for information on how to handle a new person. Make sure you are presenting a happy face when introducing your toddler to a new person. If you show fear or concern about how your toddler is going to handle this; your toddler will react with fear also.
Remember the holidays are a new and challenging experience for your toddler. But, it is also a fun and exciting time. Share the awe of seeing the bright lights, gifts and activities for the first time with your toddler.