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Handling the Holidays with Children with Special Needs

Are you wondering how to survive the holiday season this year?


This year has definitely brought new experiences and some new normal. Even in years without a pandemic, the holidays can be stressful, especially if you have a child with special needs. Are you wondering how to survive the holiday season this year? Are you looking for some additional tips for this upcoming season? While every child is different and responds differently, having some general ideas or tips to help during this season can make it go a little smoother.


YOU and NOT overreacting. Something to keep in mind is that you need to do what is good for your child and your family. While this is not always easy since others may tell you that you are overreacting, remember that YOU know your child best. Others who do not live with your child and participate in their daily routines, do not know the impact that a holiday gathering may have on your child. As a parent of a child with sensory issues, I have had to tell family members certain elements of a celebration are too much for my child and so we are not going to participate in that portion. I know the impact that doing something that is too overwhelming will have and so I just don’t participate.


Keep Old Traditions and Start Some New Ones This year it is important to remember that the holidays will probably look different and depending on how old your child is will determine how much they notice the changes. They may be used to certain traditions and depending on what they are, they may not be possible this year. It is important to talk to them about the changes and why they will be different. For a child who depends on routines, this change can be even more difficult. Is it possible to make new traditions? Have your children help create new traditions that they will enjoy.


Share Your Feelings and Listen to Theirs As you are aware, this year has brought about many changes and challenges with the pandemic. Everyone in your house is probably feeling this in some way and it will manifest itself differently for each person. It is important to remember that children will display these feelings differently than an adult and it may be hard to recognize it at first. The child may seem more anxious or react quicker to situations. Your child may seem more upset or angry or they may bottle up their feelings inside and seem more distant. When this happens, it is important to try to talk to your children about these feelings so that they understand what is happening and how to best work through the feelings and handle them. Remember that you know your child best so if something seems a little off for them to talk to them or reach out for extra help.


Remember: When children are younger, and sometimes if the child has some special needs, people often assume that they don’t know what is going on and they don’t know that things are stressful. While they may not be able to put it into words, children notice this and can be impacted by this. It has been a hard year and this can be how you are feeling, but it is important to also pay attention to your children’s feelings and talk to them when needed. If you’re child seems to be even more out of sorts than normal, maybe it's time to get some professional support as a parent. If they seem to be more withdrawn or more reactive to situations, feel free to reach out to me at Successful Families Together.


This year’s holidays will probably be different, but it may be a great year to start new traditions and have your children participate in creating these traditions.

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