Wouldn’t it be lovely to make it through the holidays without losing our cool as parents? Parenting Coach Alison Smith has three tips to help you be a gentle – and sane! – parent this year.
School will be out soon and we’re all getting ready for the holidays. This combination of excitement and preparation can create stress for families. And when we’re working so hard to maintain a positive parenting approach, we can feel additional guilt when we lose our cool.
So I’ve put together three of my favourite ways to keep our inner Scrooge at bay!
Stay focused on the key responsibilities of being a gentle parenting: Connect. Empathize. Empower.
1. Remain connected as a family; this builds resilience and strength.
- Regular conversation is one way to keep your connection strong. Ask your children how they’re feeling. Kids pick up on our stress – and little ones especially may not understand why we’re running around like chickens with our heads cut off, or are snapping instead of being our usual cheery self. They might assume they’ve done something to make us mad.
- Consider buying an experience rather than a toy and enjoy it with them. A photo album of the memories created would be a bonus!
- Keep children in mind when planning holiday tasks. This may mean only making three types of cookies instead of five, or allowing for extra prep time to make them together!
- Are there ways the kids can help more? Talk with them about the extra holiday tasks, why we do them, and get them on board.
2. Be sure to empathize with what they are thinking or feeling.
If your child is whining for a certain toy, ask them what they like about it. Let them know you understand how cool it is. Listen to what they’re telling you about things that are important to them. Empathizing doesn’t mean you agree, so you can still ‘stick to your guns’ about not buying it if you need to. (And if you don’t buy it, then you have another great opportunity to demonstrate how well you can empathize with their disappointment!)
3. Involve the whole family in decisions and actions to empower each other.
- Use the opportunity to deepen your child’s problem-solving skills. “So you want to stay up later for this special occasion? Alright. Let’s talk about what you need to do so you’re not too tired. Let’s make a plan.”
- This is where you get to teach them important life skills like patience.
- As adults, we understand the value of giving and helping others less fortunate. Christmas is a great time to work on this particular lesson, too.
How do YOU plan ahead to stay calm during the holiday season? Share your tips below!