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Heading Off the Frenzy at Family Gatherings

I asked Michelle Nicholasen and Barabara O’Neal, authors of the book I Brake for Meltdowns: How to Handle the Most Exasperating Behavior of Your 2- to 5-Year-Old (De Capo Press) for some advice on how to deal with some of the most common issues presented by the holidays. Here’s what they had to say about the pressure to behave at large family gatherings.

He won’t say hello to Aunt Mary? Explain to your child ahead of time what to expect, who will be there, and what will happen. The day before the gathering, rehearse saying hello and greeting people. But don’t force him to do it in a high-pressure situation. If he won’t budge, put your arm around him or stand right next to him and say hello for him. On the side, you can say to Aunt Mary, “Josh is just getting comfortable saying hello to people he hasn’t seen in a while.”

He’s only eating sweets at the party? Be really flexible about your routines, because they will most likely get swept away by the occasion. If your child won’t eat “real” food, don’t make it your mission to get nutrition into him today. Bring along easy protein: yogurt, cheese crackers, or offer a glass of milk. If you have access to your host’s fridge, try an optional toothpick snack. Kids can’t resist toothpicks. Spear some cubes of ham, or a rolled-up piece of lunchmeat that they like. Spear some cubes of cheese, and any fresh veggie they’ll eat. Have a picnic-snack. If they still refuse to eat good stuff, don’t sweat it. Just enjoy the party.

No place to nap? It’s very likely your child will have to skip a nap during the family get together. If she falls apart and is beside herself, take her for a walk outside in a stroller. Otherwise, don’t insist on a nap if she’s holding up okay. Try to lure her away to sit with you in a quiet room as you read a book. It’s not a nap, perhaps, but it’s a good break.

Find out more about I Brake for Meltdowns: How to Handle the Most Exasperating Behavior of Your 2- to 5-Year-Old here.

Photo courtesy of Manic Mommies

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