Many of my clients are overwhelmed when it comes to managing the expectations of their child during the Christmas and Holiday season. On ABC News Breakfast yesterday I was able to offer strategies that help parents cope with the highs and lows of the Christmas period.
Children asking for gifts that are too expensive or inappropriate.
Remember it’s about balance – it is you as a parent that sets the values/boundaries, not the children getting the presents. You need to be mindful of peer pressure or marketing material when responding to these requests…or sometimes demands.
It is ok for children to feel disappointed
Don't fall for ‘pester power’ or buy too many gifts because you want your child to have "the best Christmas ever". (Remember there’s always another gift giving opportunity).
Excess creates indulged individuals and even higher expectations next year.
You get what you get
Children need to learn how to respond and cope when they receive a gift that is not what they wanted or asked for.
Christmas is more than just the presents
Research shows that the most positive memories children have of Christmas is actually the special traditions that you do as family year after year, both in the lead up and on the day itself.
Set realistic expectations
Make sure you don’t get caught up in impossible ‘rosy-tinted’ images of the 'perfect family Christmas'. When it becomes all too much have an ‘exit plan’ which might mean specifying a time you're leaving. If stressful situations occur offer to take the children outside and away from any possible confrontations. If there are awkward situations find a task or activity away from the action.
Communication and compromise
Good communication and compromise is the key to surviving Christmas – even when you may feel resentful or worried about what’s in store. If this is a new family situation that you are stressed about children will pick up on this and feel guilty or confused. Share what is going to happen with the children – and maybe come up with some new traditions/celebrations as a way to get them through it all in one piece.
Put your own emotions aside
Children need to be the priority, so remember to keep your own feelings/resentment in check – as children can easily get caught in the middle. Listen to what your child is saying, acknowledge their feelings first.
Children will pick up on negative energy. Especially with split families, it’s important to come up with new holiday traditions… don't look back and compare past holidays when the family was together. Focus on the bigger picture.