Having a Hectic Holiday?… Let’s Take Some Deep Breaths

Guest Authored By Sophia P L, OTR/L

With the holiday season upon us, it can be hard enough for adults to stay stress free, let alone our kids. Even in the midst of this winter wonderland, the holidays are filled with change and change is hard. School is out and daily routines are all shifted around.  But, not to worry! Here are some tips and tricks to helping your child emotionally self-regulate during this busy holiday season.  

First, make a schedule and set expectations. Children benefit from clear instructions and structure. Here are some ideas on ways to set expectations for children: 

  • A simple talk – On the weeks leading up to the holidays, take time to talk about family traditions, plans, and expectations. This allows them to understand expectations, mentally prepare, and ease into the new routine. 
  • Read books about the holidays – Children benefit from multi-modal ways of learning. Books are a great way to provide both visual and verbal information.  
  • Create a visual schedule – Children often want to know the 3 W’s: where, when, and what. Visual schedules help ease anxiety and stress over what is to come.  
  • Build in breaks – The holidays are filled with sensory information that is new and overwhelming to kids. There is holiday music, new food, and unfamiliar social interactions with distant family members. Talk to your child about asking for a break and build in some break times throughout the day!  

Second, provide different self-regulation tools to help your child emotionally cope! Here are some strategies to help cope: 

  • Deep guided breathing – “Smell the roses, blow out the candle”. 
  • Take a walk or movement break – Allow your children to get up and move. Animal crawls, wheelbarrow walks, or crashing into pillows are great ways to help self-regulate especially after long sedentary periods (i.e. watching a holiday movie!). 
  • Water or snack break – Pack something preferred or crunchy! Crunchy textures provide input that many kids seek. 
  • Listen to music  
  • Squeeze a stress ball 
  • Hugs or weighted blanket – Deep pressure is calming to many kids.   
  • Reading in a quiet room – Bring some favorite books and let your child take a 10-15 minute break to go read. 
  • Preferred item – Allow them to bring their favorite holiday gift or that “blankie” they love. 

Third, help your child self-advocate! Many children do not understand social expectations during the holiday season. Provide them with ways to tell their friends and loved ones when they are feeling stressed. Some examples may include: 

  • “I” Statements – Have your child state how they feel using “I feel __________, when __________.” Prompt them to express themselves when they are stressed. 
  • “I need space.” 
  • “I need a break.” 
  • “It’s too loud.” 

 Each and every child is unique and different. Modify these strategies to best suit your family to enjoy a stress-free holiday season! 

Eyas Landing is a therapy clinic with a mission to provide evidence-based and family-centered therapy services for children, adolescents, and their families. The primary goal is to deliver relationship-based interventions within the most natural environments and to empower families to reach their full potential. To achieve this goal, our highly educated, compassionate staff dedicates time and expertise to create experiences that maximize therapeutic outcomes. The strength, determination, and perseverance of our clients are evident as they succeed in therapy, and ultimately in their daily lives.

Eyas Landing offers a wide range of comprehensive services including Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, ABA Therapy, Social Work, Family Therapy, and Neuropsych testing. Services are provided throughout the Chicagoland area via Telehealth, In-Home, and in our state of the art clinic.

Want to learn more or you have a specific question? Feel free to connect with us here!