How to handle holiday emotions with toddlers

Many of us are preparing to have all of our children at home during the holiday season, while also hosting family members or maybe traveling to see friends and family which all lead to big emotions, not only for us, but for our toddlers as well.

That’s why I went LIVE in my Montessori Toddler’s Facebook group to chat about some simple strategies you can implement this holiday season to help your toddler handle those big emotions.

You can watch the LIVE below, or just keep reading. (If you want to catch these trainings in real time, be sure to request to join our free, Montessori Toddler community here.)

Identify more predictable times you KNOW your toddlers emotions will be high.

Identifying times when self-regulation might be harder and talking with your child ahead of time, co-creating a plan (for older children), is essential for navigating the more predictable challenges.

Is it sitting still for a long family meal?

Or maybe it’s when their sibling tries to play with their favorite new present?

Or is it when they have to talk to Great-Aunt Sally who they rarely see and they have no idea what to say?

Make sure your child has a quiet space to retreat to.

If you have friends and family visiting, and if it it’s at all possible; try to keep your child’s room their sanctuary. Understandably, that may not be feasible in all situations. In which case, you can perhaps allow them to retreat to your bedroom instead.

Stick to your routines.

Even though it’s the holiday season, can you keep some current routines in place? For example, bedtimes, morning routines? Routines and rhythms can act as an emotional anchor for both your toddler and yourself.

Keep your child “in the loop” regarding what is happening.

If a gift exchange is happening or cousins are coming to visit, give your child as much of a heads’ up as possible. When children know what to expect, they’re less likely to become overwhelmed.

Maybe you can create a visual calendar or just chat about it. The tricky part with this though, is that you want to be sure to just talk about events perhaps a day at a time vs. laying out the entire week or month for them. This gives a nice balance between knowing what is happening, while not being overwhelmed by what’s to come next.

Spread your holidays events out where possible.

Saying ‘no’ is okay! Cramming 15 events into one day is overwhelming for EVERYONE. Be sure to protect your ‘down time’. One big event is more than enough, with ‘down time’ built in on either side of the event. This allows us to actually enjoy holiday events and take time beforehand and afterwards to process it. It’s important to remember that there’s a lot of overstimulation for our little ones. Lots of sounds, lights, new smells etc.

Set and keep your boundaries!

Meeting everyone’s needs at this time is impossible. Remember your boundaries and put you and your immediate family first.

Get outside.

When the kids are climbing the walls. Remove the walls! I know this can be difficult if you are living in a harsher climate, but even if it’s only for ten minutes. Make outside time a priority. There’s no such thing as bad weather … it’s just a poor choice of clothing. So, even if it takes just as long to get dressed and undressed in your snow boots, pants, hats and scarves … do it!

The holiday season is a time for creating memories and having fun. But the pressure can also be real. Do you have other strategies you use to help regulate emotions with toddlers? If so, we’d love to hear them. Be sure to drop them below!

ALSO if you’re looking to decrease YOUR stress during this holiday time, I’ve put together a vetted Holiday Gift Guide that is Montessori aligned! You can snag yours for free here.

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