Celebrating Builds Togetherness and Lifetime Memories
Last month, we took a look at How Holiday Stress Affects Children, but it’s fair to say that holidays also provide many opportunities for growth, family togetherness, and the opportunity to create memories that last a lifetime.
Making children’s holidays special by participating in family traditions from a young age helps them develop emotional connections, creates joyful and happy memories, and gives children foundations of warmth, love, and excitement to take with them through life.
Just as traditions are important for adults, so they are for children. Traditions teach children about their culture, values, and history. They can keep children centered during the hubbub of the holidays, when travel, meeting family, and community obligations can cause stress.
During the holidays children experience cultural and religious symbolism, fantastical characters and stories, household and community decorations. Interestingly, you don’t have to be worried about exposing children to stories about elves and reindeer, animals talking at midnight, or Santa fitting down chimneys, no matter your family’s traditions
According to Mayra Mendez, PhD (program coordinator for intellectual and developmental disabilities at Providence Saint John’s Child and Family Development Center), “Critical thinking is reinforced when the developing mind takes to account both elements of fantasy and reality and makes sense of the information in a way that is socially acceptable within the familiar context of the child’s world experience.”
Toddlers are developing an amazing array of skills from birth to age 3, with the brain especially active in developing play skills, thinking skills, and a flexible imagination. All the wonders of the holidays fit right in, providing fuel for fun and growth.
Establishing Simple Traditions and Routines
Routines help center adults and children alike, providing comfort and reducing stress. So, while the holidays provide a lot of stimuli for kids and often stress for adults, they can also be a source of familiar and good things to anticipate.
Consider setting aside time for what will become routine holiday traditions just for your family.
- Shopping for a Christmas Tree
- Setting up holiday lights
- Baking cookies and holiday treats
- Lighting the menorah for Hanukkah
- Visiting relatives and stopping by neighbors for the holidays
- Watching favorite holiday movies together
- Adding a special new ornament or household decoration every year
Routines like this become family traditions and foster an emotional connection that links your child with your family and the holidays. When kids experience the certainty of the routine and the connection of family, they are better able to handle the minor chaos of other festivities.
You can find more holiday tradition ideas in these articles:
25 Holiday Traditions to Start This Year, 52 Holiday Traditions for Families, and How to Start Holiday Traditions with Toddlers.
Embrace What You Love, Skip What You Don’t
If you’re a terrible baker, don’t force yourself to whip up a batch of cookies. If Christmas decorating isn’t your thing, put away the tangled lights. Children, even toddlers, are especially perceptive of your mood and emotions. Do what you love, and those vibes of joy will be picked up by your kids, making them joyful too.
Reach back to your own childhood and remember what made the holidays special for you. After all, you’re trying to establish the traditions and routines that will make the holidays special for your children, and calling on your own family memories is a great place to start.
Early Intervention Therapies
If your child seems unable to cope with any disruptions to their schedule and is overly excited or uncontrollable during the holidays, they may be hampered by developmental delays.
If your child seems to have a developmental delay, there is a great deal of help and many resources you can call upon. Ask your pediatrician about Early Intervention therapies from TEIS Early Intervention.
At TEIS Early Intervention, our therapists listen to your concerns, assess your child’s individual needs, develop a customized treatment plan, and educate you along the way on simple routine-based solutions to maximize your child’s development in their natural environment.
Early Intervention evaluations and therapy services are available under the Federal Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities. Before services can be provided, an independent evaluation of your child must be completed. To assure impartiality, one agency offers evaluation services while another provides the therapeutic services.
To learn more, call TEIS Early Intervention at 412-271-8347 or visit our Contact Us page to get help today.