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A Pediatric Perspective

Tis the season ... to get overwhelmed...

Published December 20, 2010 11:33 PM by Wendy Hof

"and the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there ... "

 I can't believe that Christmas is just a few days away.  I'm actually a little more ahead this year than I thought I would be.  I have a good number of packages wrapped and under the tree and just a couple of things left to purchase.  I know my two boys are counting down the days until they can come down the stairs and tear into their presents.. J

This time of year can be very overwhelming for some children.  Schedules may be changed due to more frequent (and busier) shopping trips, trips to see family that live out of the area, holiday/celebration get togethers, etc.  Many an adult is overwhelmed let alone a child but there are ways to try and help make this time of year a little less stressful and a little more enjoyable for all family members.

  • Allow for some quiet time. If you have family visiting or will be going to visit family, make sure that there is a place for your child to go and "hide out" so they can regroup if they need to. Many times a few moments in a quiet place could mean the difference between a child that can tolerate more family time and a child that gets overwhelmed and has a major melt down.
  • If you are having a big meal be sure to have some favorites that you know your child will eat. If that is not possible be sure to bring snacks along and make them available throughout the day for your child to graze on. This will assure that they are not hungry if there is nothing they like to eat at meal time. I know how cranky my boys get when they are hungry. If you can prevent them from getting to that point you can prevent them from getting cranky and upset over every little thing. We always try to assure that there is at least one thing that each child will eat during our big family get togethers, even if it means that mom brings it along in a container and we heat it up just for them. A fed child is a happy child.
  • When it comes to opening gifts allow frequent breaks if you sense that your child is getting overwhelmed. Gift opening can be broken down and done throughout the day. Perhaps a couple gifts can be opened in the morning when you first get up (one being something they can play with) and then maybe a gift or two before meal time and, if any left, finish before bed time (but allowing enough time for them to play if it is a toy.)
  • Follow your child's cues. When you see them starting to get overwhelmed help them to regroup. This could mean some sensory input, taking a break, finding a quiet spot, or even just cuddling on your lap for a few moments. Try and get to your child before they are totally over whelmed as it is easier to help them before they reach their breaking point.

The holiday season is a wonderful time to be with our family and friends and it can be a great memory if we make sure that everyone is able to enjoy it.  If anyone has any other strategies that they've found to work during the holidays please share what they were so we can all add them to our useful book of strategies to help when our kids get overwhelmed.

Merry Christmas everyone!  Thanks for stopping by -hope to see you back here again soon.


:) Great pointers Wendy.  The one suggestion that I have seen definitely help some children is coloring.  Print out a few coloring pages and have some quiet time.  Coloring is so therapeutic, and even kids that come into the therapy office I work at always go right for the crayons and coloring pages.  I think it centers them and gives them a minute to unwind.  

Wishing you some Xmas Cheer!  


Advance for OT Student Blogger

Sandy Russo December 21, 2010 6:14 PM

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