Avoiding Meltdowns this Holiday Season

The Holiday Season is upon us and it is such a wonderful time of year. It can also be a time of meltdowns and stress for kids.

There is nothing like a good meltdown or temper tantrum to ruin Christmas.
Here are a few suggestions that will help.

Stick to the Schedule.
Be sure you stay consistent with meal times and nap and bed times. This is the BEST WAY TO AVOID MELTDOWNS THIS CHRISTMAS, KEEP NAPS AND BEDTIME REGULAR. Getting behind on sleep is a recipe for disaster.

You might have to speak up. One Christmas I went to put our son down for a nap and a holiday visitor gave me the guilt trip. "I am only here for two days, a nap is more important than him seeing me." Yikes! Yep, the nap is more important. Protect your kids and get them food and sleep.

Have realistic expectations.
We all have a "vision" of how the holidays should go. When they don't go as planned, we get upset and stressed and less patient with our kids. Just because it's Christmas, doesn't mean our children will all of a sudden be perfect. Keep a clear perspective and be flexible. Don't let your expectations for the holiday, become more important than your children.

Also... understand kids are going to ask for more toys and more treats and more of everything. Take the shock value out of the requests because you know they are going to happen. Make expectations clear, and make consequences clear, ahead of time. Instead of constantly saying "No", find a way to say "Yes" to alternatives. (When your daughter keeps asking for more sugar cookies, your first thought might be to say "NO, you have already had two." Instead, say "You can have some raisins or some cheese and crackers"). Try to turn the "No" into a "Yes".

Put yourself in your kids shoes.
Think back to when you were a kid. There was so much anticipation. You waited and waited for all the holiday excitement. Our kids don't understand the stress that we might be under preparing for this time of year. All they know is that they are excited. Remember that feeling? See the world through their little eyes.  Let them be excited. Seeing the holidays from their point of view will make it much easier to be patient with them. 

Kids are experiencing so many emotions that they don't understand. They don't understand time (do I get to open presents yet?) They don't understand needs vs. wants. They don't understand the difference between "I want to throw myself on the floor and cry, AND, I am really tired and hungry". Explain emotions and feelings so that they can start to understand how they are feeling.

Communication also helps with upcoming events. Prepare them for the upcoming party or activity. Don't just spring it on them while they are in the middle of Chutes and Ladders and say it is time to go.

A few other suggestions...

  • DON'T THREATEN... "If you don't stop crying, Santa won't come to our house". This will not help. Not in the long run.
  • If you are going to be away from the house for more than 3 hours, plan a 20-30 minute break for your kids to do something fun and take a little breather. (25 minutes every 3 hours)
  • There are often times last minute errands and preparations to make. Consider swapping kids with a friend so that your kids can stay on their schedule. 
  • Don't go to more than three adult activities a week. Leaving kids with a babysitter every night of the week will cause them stress. Be selective and pick the most important three. Say no to the rest. 
  • Twice a week, have a block of 3 hours that are unscheduled. Enjoy that time with your kids.
  • Go on a date with your spouse. This will help you refuel, which will give you more patience for your kids, and the season. 
  • Plan one "day long" family activity over the break. Time to be together will do wonders for your kids behavior. Remember, love is spelled, T-I-M-E. 

Good research shows that SPENDING TIME TOGETHER AND HAVING EXPERIENCES TOGETHER means more than "things". 

This holiday season, if we want less temper tantrums and meltdowns, worry less about the new "stuff", and spend more time together. 



  1. If I am honest, I will admit that I melt down too. The best thing for me this time of the year is rest. When I am rested, I can let the little things roll off my back. When I'm not, I open my mouth and the dragon flames roll out. No one needs to hear my roar. Thanks for the reminders.

  2. Ugh. We have been having a rough season this year. Things just are not going well and my kids are constantly fighting and bickering. I don't see as much excitement as I do selfishness. It's been a really rough week. Constant fights every five minutes. I've tried so hard to make this a fun season for them since we won't be with family, having advent activities to do and shortening screen time so we can play together. But every single thing I do ends in a tantrum or fight. I'm anxious for Christmas to be over and I feel awful about it. I want everybody to just be happy and have fun! Thanks for the tips. I hope it works, because we could use some Christmas cheer over here.

  3. Having realistic expectations is a really good point. We have these movie perfect images of what it should be and it just may not be that way. Just wondering... do you have any suggestions for mommy meltdowns?! :-)

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