Managing Expectations and Emotions this Christmas!

A magical Christmas can still include tantrums, high temperatures, sibling fighting, sleepless nights, poo explosion, teething to name but a few. A perfect Christmas day can still include a dinner rejected by a toddler. Managing your own expectations and the reality of the week is probably the best thing to start with. Manage your expectations of their behaviour and your own.

Extreme excitement, a lot of new toys, activities, people and volume can be very over whelming. A toddler being overwhelmed at this time of year can show itself in many ways and can be perceived in many ways.

It can look like:
– Demanding, controlling, spoiled, defiant, manipulative, attention seeking, ungrateful and unpleasant.
-It can feel personal embarrassing and make us doubt our own ability to parent.
-It can appear like a negative reflection of how they feel about us ie. You are ruining my life, I hate you!

What it might truly reflect and actually mean is:
– I can only be like this with you, you are my safe place

– I can be myself with you, I can be honest.
– You will know how to fix this.
– I’m not coping.
– I’m anxious.
– I’m overwhelmed.
-Everything is very unpredictable right now I feel totally out of control.
– I don’t have the social skill set to maneuver this more appropriately.
– The mixture and strength of emotions I’m feeling is very confusing. Eg. Excitement, nervousness, fear, jealousy, angry, happy.
– I don’t have the emotional maturity to know that my behaviour is offensive.

N. B. When the strong emotions hit meet them with, empathy, emotion and validate them as real. Once they have been heard and validated you might well be on the right road to diffusing the situation. You could then possibly come up with a solution, plan or compromise which will help everyone move on.

– I’m totally overstimulated and need to regulate in some way.
Everyone regulates differently find what works for you and yours. Exercise, colouring, reading, music, quiet place, alone time, tv. Whatever works, works. There’s no right or wrong, if it brings a feeling of calm.

Santa can be great and exciting until Christmas eve and then it can be absolutely terrifying! Thats ok! Put a comforting spin on all the “magic” to suit your child.
Eg. I’ll meet Santa at the door and take the presents and then make sure he goes on his way again.
Eg. Lets put his plate of treats in the shed and he will leave the gifts there.

Lastly and often most importantly especially for the under fives try bear in mind that they need everything they needed yesterday, last week and last month to cope and survive as they usually do. You may see uncharacteristic behaviour if naps and bedtimes are skipped or stretched beyond reason. Being flexible over the holidays is of course normal and often necessary but if they normally don’t cope with these changes try be prepared for them not being able to manage these same changes Christmas week also.

Good luck and Merry Christmas

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