Ho ho ho mo fo.
Did I tell you about last Christmas? It was a complete feckin disaster. Gibby was two, and I’d got ridiculously over excited. This would be the first Christmas she wasn’t a baby. The first Christmas I’d properly get to see that little face light up at the sight of her presents on Christmas morning. We’d all sit around in knitted festive jumpers and paper hats (it helps if you visualise this scene with a slightly 80’s-stylee soft focus edge to it, and perhaps a bit of a In Dulci Jubilo in the background) and we’d hug and kiss with delight as our little girl tore open the shiny paper and squealed with glee at the gifts Santa had brought.
The reality was that she woke up in a complete nark, screaming her head off . . . and didn’t stop. All day. Every present was unceremoniously bashed away with screams of “NoNoNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” and if we started to open a gift for her, to get the ball rolling, she went ballistic. She refused even one mouthful of Christmas dinner. She wouldn’t play with anything, she hit, kicked and screamed, and all the presents were put away – still wrapped.
Mummy had a very long tearful walk with the dogs. Daddy started early on the Christmas sherry.
So this year, I have mixed feeling about the approaching big day. I’m hoping we won’t have a repeat of last year – she’s that bit older, and she seems to understand the whole Christmas process a lot more. . . but you never know.
So, I’m guessing I’m not the only parent worrying about Christmas meltdowns, and I thought I’d share my thoughts and plans to try to minimise tantrum potential and the stress in can cause.
SO – Presenting the Water Birth Please Top Ten Tips for Tantrums at Christmas:
- Expect the worst! GOSH I’m such a cheery little Christmas fairy aren’t I? But what I’m getting at is this: if you expect tantrums and arguments, it won’t seem quite so awful if they happen. We want Christmas to be so perfect and it rarely is, so if you mentally run through a few worst-case scenarios – anything better can only be a bonus.
- Have planned activities on the run up to Christmas day. Wrap up and go to the park. Get the glitter and crafts out. Make Christmas biscuits.Even be charitable and visit a nursing home or donate some food/blankets to an animal shelter. boredom is a tantrums best friend!
- Should a tantrum occur, try your best to shrug it off and stay cool. One of the worst things I could hear as a child was “You’re spoiling Christmas.” Don’t let it – You’re the adult. You decide what ruins it or not.
- Make your little one Mummy/Daddy’s Christmas Day Elf/Fairy helper. Give them a special hat to wear and designated jobs to help out on Christmas day, however small. Gibby will be donning her Christmas Elf Helper Hat to help Mummy tidy away wrapping paper, set the table, and feed the cats.
- Defuse the situation. If you feel tension rising – try to stop it in its tracks. Call a time out on present opening. Phone or skype a relative. Have a sing-song and a dance to a music channel. Have a wind down with a Christmas film. Distraction is a powerful tool when a tantrum’s coming on.
- Of course there’ll be lots of stuff going on, but where possible, we’ll be keep things consistent. Bath time/bedtime in particular.
- Sit as a family and make a poster of Christmas rules. Decorate it together and read them together as often as you can. Put it up somewhere prominent and show it off to any visitors so your little one will feel a bit of pride about it. (Try and make them Do’s, not Dont’s, i.e – “share our presents, go to bed on time, kind hands and kinds words, help Mum tidy” rather than “Don’t make a mess, no late nights, no shouting” etc.
- PRAISE good behaviour. Even when it doesn’t seem much. If they’re sitting quietly, tell them how pleased it makes you.
- Lead by example. I read somewhere once that what we say and do becomes our children’s inner voice. Remembering this has saved me from exploding more than a few times. Leave the room and count to ten if need be.
- Keep calm and carry on. It may be printed on every mug/cushion/tea-towel and door mat in the country, but never were these words more apt than at this time of year.
If all else fails I have a VERY large bottle of Bailies! Merry Christmas!
What would your top tips be for handling a Christmas meltdown?