Extension offers holiday tips for young children

Published 2:03 pm Thursday, December 17, 2015

By Pauline Stokes

FCS SNAP-Ed agent

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It seems that the holidays just come and go so quickly anymore! And although it should not be true, they often add stress to families. But be forewarned, there are ways that parents with young children survive the stress of holidays.

No matter if it is the hype of the 4th of July, costume searching in October, or baking and sneaking around in December, an extra level of stress is evident. An important reminder for all families is that if you’re attempting to fit the joys of parenting in with shopping, decorating, and your usually hectic schedule it’s a good idea to remind yourself about which behaviors are normal and predictable from your young children.

Most children act their age. While pictures in magazines show beautifully attired, clean, calm children sitting patiently for hours on end and behaving themselves, you must keep in mind those are just pictures. Real children go through stages. Let the stages of your young ones help determine your activities at holiday time.

Take time to enjoy the phase your child is in. Remember that how a child acts is tied to his or her age and stage of development. Although children less than a year old may love the excitement a special season brings, it is really just another day to a child this age.

It’s easy for them to feel overwhelmed by too many toys, relatives or kinds of food. While it might be an important year to establish traditions, give your baby enough rest and time alone with you.

Toddlers will be lovable, cute and curious, but probably demanding and exasperating at the same time. The one big word of warning is to child-proof your home. Don’t try to make too much of gift giving. They usually just like the wrapping and boxes and will enjoy it more next year.

Two-year-olds will be excited about everything that sparkles, glitters and blinks. They like to be a part of everything, but can’t anticipate, so they can’t wait to open gifts, eat the goodies and go places. Remember, they haven’t learning to share well yet and may hit other children or grab toys. They are stubborn and might throw a few tantrums.  Think twice about taking them shopping.

At the age of three, it may be the first year where you have a little one without diapers and with a sunny disposition. They are beginning to have expectations, so you might want to decorate and work together on simple projects. They love gifts — both the packaging and what is inside. They can now play with other kids. But their excitement level is high; therefore, they may be hard to handle in the mall or shopping center.

Consider instead a pajama ride in the car to look at holiday decorations. Remember through it all that creating memories, family celebrations, and rituals are actually activities that sustain families and create cohesion. Predictable silliness, fun and ways of celebrating bring comfort and closeness.