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Tips To Prevent And Handle Toddler Temper Tantrums Over The Holidays

Every parent has experienced some sort of meltdown with his or her toddler at one time or another. It’s actually a common response in children between the ages of 1 and 4. If it happens once in a while when the child is tired, hungry or sick, it’s uncomfortable but understandable since children at that age generally don’t have the tools to explain their despair. However, it’s when the behavior becomes a regular daily habit that parents need to figure out what is triggering the meltdowns and learn appropriate ways to stop it.

When a child starts having a tantrum, especially if out in public, the caregivers initial response is usually to give the child what he or she wants to get them to be quiet. However, this response is harmful in the long run because it teaches the child that this is how they can get their way. Research shows that if the tantrum isn’t harmful, for the best results parents should ignore the behavior. As our pediatrician would tell us, walk away from the scene and withdraw your attention because even negative attention tends to feed into the behavior. Instead, wait until the child tries to calm down and then become involved by giving them praise for gaining control of their actions.

During this holiday season you will probably be spending time in other people’s homes for celebrations. You might be driving long distances, staying in cramped quarters or just spending a long day away from your child’s normal routine. Your best bet for preventing bad behavior is to start talking to your child about upcoming events now. The more they know about what to expect, the better. And, by planning ahead. If you know that you will spend time out shopping with family or visiting at different homes, bring your child’s regular snacks in case they won’t eat what’s served. Sometimes tantrums are due to the child feeling a lack of control over the situation. Letting him or her decide what they are going to wear that day or what toys they want to bring with them will help them feel like they had a say in the matter and are a part of the process. Try to stick with routine during your stay as much as possible, including naps and bedtime. Furthermore, if you begin to notice that a tantrum is coming on, try to divert their attention to a new activity.

So what to do if none of this works and you are out at a fancy restaurant with extended family that haven’t seen you in years? Sometimes, you just can’t ignore the situation so you have to take some sort of action. Behavior specialists suggest removing your child from the situation and taking him to a quiet spot for a time-out. This might be the car or somewhere outside. Stay calm and talk to them in a soothing voice. If they see that you are rattled, it will contribute to their own hysteria. Don’t try to reason with them, but give them time to vent, cool down and snap out of it. Once they have regained their composure, be sure to go back to the event otherwise they will learn that this is their way out of something they don’t want to do. Finally, praise good and appropriate behavior.

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Tips To Temper Separation Anxiety During The Holidays

In many divorced families, the holiday season is a time that the children travel to visit a parent in another state, or spend an extended stay that includes Christmas or New Years with the parent they see less often. For children going through this for the first time, or those that are anxious about the change in traditions and events, this can be an extremely stressful period. It’s important for adults to remember that while the physical separation of a divorce might happen over one weekend, the effects on the children can unfold over many years. During the holidays, the feelings of worry are often exemplified because although the child wants to see the other parent, they also don’t want to leave friends, activities, and the stability of their primary home behind. Many children also worry that the parent left at home will be sad or lonely without them.

In response, some children might become especially clingy and not want to leave your side, or just the opposite and become more withdrawn. The term that doctor’s use is “separation anxiety disorder” and it can manifest itself in varying degrees of intensity. While a certain level of nervousness over separating from the primary caregiver is expected, in some children it becomes excessive, overwhelming the child with worry. The child might have difficulty sleeping alone, stress that something bad is going to happen to the parent and absolutely refuse to do what is expected of them like going to visit the other parent.

There are a number of things that parents can do at home to help temper anxious behavior. They include:

1. Listen empathetically to the child’s feelings. Sympathizing can help them understand that they are not alone in having these worries and help boost their confidence that everything will be all right.

2. Keep calm. Nothing scares a child more than your meltdown. If the parent sets a positive tone by remaining stable, upbeat and soothing, the child can model the calm behavior. Hold your tears until after they’ve left.

3. Create a ritual. Establish a routine you go through each time they are ready to leave. Children always feel more secure and confident when they know what to expect. You can give them something special from you that they always travel with, let them know they can contact you at any time, reassure them that you want them to go away and enjoy, and that you will be there when they get back.

4. Establish your plan in advance. Include the kids in on the conversation so they know what the schedule will be while they are away. Give them things to look forward to on their visit, tell them who they can expect to see and reasons to want to go.

5. Use positive reinforcement. When your child separates from you without losing it, tell him or her how proud you are of their behavior. Praise helps build self-esteem.

All in all, divorce is stressful for everyone involved, but with time things generally fall into a routine and get better. If you know that your child is going to have a hard time leaving you this holiday season, do your best to utilize the tips provided. Don’t be afraid to get support from family, friends, parenting classes or through therapy and know that this too shall pass.

Tips To Help Your Kids Through The Holiday Season After A Divorce

If you have recently been divorced or are in the process, you might find that your children get angrier over the holidays. It’s the first time that mom and dad won’t be together as a family unit and they feel stress and helplessness. Put yourself in their shoes, while in years past they were able to spend the entire day with cousins they like to play with, now they are frustrated because they have to split their time between different households rather than experiencing the stability and routine of years past. Resentment starts to build up and they get mad at the parent pulling them away. Or, if the parents try to brush their differences under the rug for the sake of the kids and celebrate together, the children might secretly hope that it means they will get back together. More anger and anxiety builds when their dreams don’t come to fruition.

In reality, children do best with routine and structure. It gives them boundaries and they feel a sense of calm when they know what to expect. Going through that first year of divorce brings change for everyone. Households might be different, a new school, new schedules and of course the holidays will not be like they have been in the past. Some children will react by shutting down; others will have meltdowns that you haven’t experienced before. It’s normal, as their sense of security has been disrupted. And, don’t forget that they are probably feeling jealous of the friends around them who are celebrating their traditions with their parent’s marriage still in tact.

You may feel loneliness and pain too, but to help your kids get through this time of the year there are some things you can do to help the situation:

1. Even if you are feeling depressed, do your best to get into the holiday spirit. An upbeat attitude will show your kids that it’s okay to feel happy under the new circumstances.

2. Plan ahead so children know what to expect. This will reduce anxiety. If you can, try to keep kids with one parent on the holiday so they aren’t being dragged from one location to the next.

3. Let the kids have input about what the plans will be. Including them in on the decisions gives them a sense of control and ownership over how their holiday will look.

4. Try to hold onto as many family traditions as are appropriate. Have fun coming up with new ones as well.

5. Let kids express their emotions and keep communication flowing. Even though you might be ecstatic that you don’t have to spend another holiday with your in-laws, they might feel sad that you aren’t going to be there. Show empathy and validate their feelings.

6. Don’t isolate your kids from the other parent. If Thanksgiving is your holiday but your kids are missing the other parent, let them make a call, Skype or even have a quick visit. Shutting down communication will only make the child sadder.

7. Don’t hesitate to seek support. Surround yourself with family and friends that are positive influences to keep your spirits up!

The first holiday season apart is generally the hardest. Once your kids see that they still have the support of both parents and can still have fun, their anger and stress will diminish.

How To Elude The Main Parenting Mistakes

As a parent and human you are bound to lose your temper and make mistakes at some point when raising your kids. It’s normal in the heat of the moment to lose your cool and say or do something irrational in response to irrational behavior. We’ve all been there at one time in our lives. However, if you are conscientious and interested in avoiding a repeat of your misstep, here are some basic parenting tips to reflect on and follow:

1. Don’t discipline kids when you are mad! You are highly likely to respond in some way that you don’t really mean. Give yourself some time to calm down before reacting so you can have an appropriate and meaningful conversation.

2. Don’t avoid disciplining your kids because you want them to like you. Children need structure and there are times when you aren’t going to be their favorite parent. When they are raised with clear rules and limits they know what the results of their actions will be and therefore learn how to act in a regulated, controlled way.

3. Don't be inconsistent. Develop a discipline plan proactively, be sure that your kids understand what their punishment will be and stick with it. Do not just make idle threats. They will learn that you don’t really mean what you’re saying and continue with the bad behavior. If you say you will take away their Nintendo DS, then be sure to take it away!

3. Don’t do one thing and say another. Remember your kids are watching your every move. They are observing your ethics, how you treat others, and how you respond to stress and obstacles. If you tell your kids that it’s important to stick with your commitments, but you make up excuses to avoid things you don’t want to do, they will learn this behavior is acceptable. Instead, do your best to model the same behavior you expect from them.

4. Don’t ignore their feelings or in other words, listen closely. It’s important for a child’s self-esteem to know that you are paying attention to what they are telling you. Don’t simply nod and say, “That’s nice”. Or, tell them that there is no reason to be crying. Show empathy for how they feel (even if you think they are overreacting) to let them know you understand and care.

5. Don’t be too overprotective. This age of “helicopter” parents who try to make everything right for their kids might actually be providing a disservice. While it is important to keep them safe, it’s also crucial to let them make mistakes. Learning from setbacks help children to become more resilient.

6. Don’t talk too much. Young children tend to zone out. Keep it straightforward and to the point. There’s no reason to include every detail like when you are talking to a friend.

7. Don’t be afraid to apologize for your actions. If you have reacted in a not so perfect way, show your kids that it’s okay to admit you made a mistake. Some parents don’t like to do this because they feel it might undermine their authority. What it really does is show them how to handle a situation in which they hurt someone else’s feelings.