The holidays can be a very stressful time when you have a child with a communicative challenge. Your child may feel a lot of anxiety about the changes in their schedule, the sensory overload of holiday activities, and the social pressures during family and other holiday gatherings. There are a few ways you can set yourself and your child up for an enjoyable holiday season.
Remind your family and friends with an email ahead of gatherings of the ways in which they can help create a welcoming environment for your child. Giving them gentle reminders of some previously known triggers that could cause an issue might help them avoid an honest mistake. Remind them not to pressure your child to talk or hurry up and get the message out and not ask your child to repeat themselves too many times if they can’t understand.
Raising voices if a meltdown does occur only escalates a situation. Remember techniques you already know well to diffuse any issues and give your child the space they need.
Talk to your child in positive language about where you will be going, who you will see, and the behavior that will be expected. Give them the confidence to take their time in communicating with the skills they are continuing to build. Remind your child of coping strategies they may need if the pressure gets to be too much; taking a break, walking, coloring/drawing, listening to music and practicing deep breathing can all help.
When taking your child shopping or to a family function you know may cause them some stress, be prepared. Take comfort items, activities, snacks, and other familiar things you know may help your child if he or she is under duress. Favorite music and some headphones, a favorite toy, a blanket or stuffie, and a favorite snack can go a long way when a child is feeling pressure to engage but needs to take a break.
At Child Language and Developmental Speech, our speech therapists use the fun festive season to prepare our students for the pressures of the holidays – hopefully relieving some pressure. We hope these suggestions will help you deal with most of the stress that might come your child’s way with all of the hustle and bustle the season brings. We wish you and your family happy holidays and we hope you enjoy all of the festivities.