The holiday season is in full gear, and most parents’ stress levels are also. No one compiles a list and checks it twice like moms and fathers, whether they’re busy making sure everyone on their holiday shopping list is included or determining which social engagements to accept and which to avoid. Aside from party planning and house decoration, there’s also the daily chore of parenting: maintaining tiny beings semi-well-behaved and in good moods amid holiday stress.
So Yahoo Life interviewed Catherine Pearlman, creator of The Family Coach and author of Ignore It: How Selectively Looking the Other Way Can Reduce Behavioral Problems and Improve parenting.
Satisfaction in discussing how parents may feel as calm as the inside of a snow globe when everything around them appears more like a box of shattered ornaments.
Pearlman covers some of the most common holiday parenting questions, from handling a child with “gimmes” to telling Aunt Susan to back off when their child isn’t in the mood to have his cheeks pinched.
“There’s so much going on for families over the holidays,” Pearlman says. “There are activities at school, parties, and plays. As a result, this boosts the stress level.” Pearlman recommends drafting a family game plan for the Christmas season to cope.
“It’s beneficial, so you don’t get sidetracked by things that aren’t important to you,”
She says. “Think about what you truly want to fret about for your kids and family around the holidays – if you have a strategy, you’re less likely to say yes to things that don’t fit into that plan or spread yourself too thin.”
How Should Parents Talk to Their Kids About Different Holidays?
Pearlman advocates looking for books and movies that celebrate various holidays. It teaches children the value of respecting other cultures and religions during the holiday season.
“Watch and read them together, discuss them and observe how they differ.”
She adds, “There are so many celebrations in different families, those are the things to carry home… it’s essential to seek out various things deliberately.”
Pearlman recommends hosting a group supper to put what you’ve learned into practice.
“Hold an intercultural, interreligious potluck at your home,” she recommends. “Everyone brings something meaningful to their family and then talks about it. It’s a great way to throw a party.”
How Do You Help Kids Set Physical Boundaries at Holiday Family Gatherings?
Pearlman believes parents are essential in assisting children in expressing whatever physical touch they are comfortable with.
“It starts with the parent recognizing that their child does not have to hug and kiss Uncle Joe or Grandpa and that it’s not a sign of disrespect, but it’s about respecting our physical boundaries.”
Pearlman adds that this year, youngsters have the pandemic as an extra justification to avoid physical touches they’re uncomfortable with.
She continues, “You still have to welcome people, so parents may teach [their kids] how to shake hands. They may perform a fist bump or have a conversation — and parents can practice this before the holidays”.
My Kid is Acting Spoiled on the Holidays. Help! What Can I Do?
Pearlman proposes that parents reduce the emphasis on drafting lists for Santa and requesting things to alleviate some of the stress associated with receiving gifts during the holidays.
“[Creating Santa lists] generates an ‘I want. I want. I want.’ scenario for children,” she explains. “Also, stop buying your kids gifts every time they go to Target or a little item at Starbucks – this will make them more grateful for what they get over the holidays.”
Pearlman also suggests giving experiences rather than actual stuff.
“It’s something the family does together rather than a toy that they’ll play with (or not play with) and chuck to the side,”
She says, when parents notice “gimmes” taking hold in their households, Pearlman proposes getting their children involved in community service: To keep connected to how they already have a lot, have youngsters organize a gift drive or serve meals at a shelter.
Pearlman adds, “There are a lot of things parents can do with their kids as volunteer time, and then I believe it sometimes can shift the dynamic with what they’re getting in their household when they truly understand there are extremely needy kids, even in their town.”
Pearlman thinks the best way to endure holiday parenting is to figure out what works for your family and stick to it.
“Talk about the holidays [with your family],” she suggests. “Discuss what you’re going to do, how to make it light and fun, and how to stay focused on your principles.”
“Set the tone for the entire family,” Pearlman says. “If you notice your neighbor is relaxed and focused on just a few things, and you’re rushing around like a chicken with its head cut off, ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ You’ll wish you’d planned to reduce everyone’s stress by prioritizing, delegating, and thinking a little more about what’s important throughout the holiday.”