The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year. With shopping, parties, baking, and decorating, there are many ways to prepare for the season’s celebrations. The holidays bring loud noises, crowded spaces, and different smells. Stimuli, such as bright lights, unfamiliar people, and new environments, may impact all children, especially those with social or sensory differences. Here are some tips on preparing your child for the holiday season.
Talk to Your Child About What to Expect
Talk to your child about where you will visit for the holidays, even if it’s only a short visit—show photos of where you’re going and who will be there, so they aren’t surprised. Bring activities, books, and games your child enjoys. This can be particularly helpful in unfamiliar homes, where toys may not be appropriate for your child.
Ask your friends or family members who are hosting to devise a plan for your child in case they need a quiet space to go if there is a lot of noise. Ask what foods will be served if your child has food sensitivities. This allows you to plan to take any necessary precautions or bring familiar foods for your child.
Do Your Shopping Early
Last-minute holiday shopping when stores are at their busiest is stressful for anyone, but it is particularly overwhelming for a child who thrives on routine. It’s best to gradually expose kids to the season’s excitement and do your shopping while the stores are less crowded. Alternatively, you can avoid the sensory issues altogether and shop without your child present.
Role Play Different Scenarios
Preparing your child for holiday activities is essential, so they know what to expect. You and your child can role-play specific scenarios, such as visiting Santa, going through airport security, or receiving a present. Watch videos online, read books, and act out the scene ahead of time. If there is a new experience, understand that surprises may be received poorly.
Factor in Travel Time
Even if you’re not traveling as far this year, a relatively long car ride could be difficult for your child. If you plan on driving longer than usual, be sure to plan for frequent stops and bathroom breaks. Give your family plenty of time to reach your destination. Also, bring snacks for the ride, both familiar and new that your child may be excited to try. Pack your child’s favorite games, toys, or activity books to keep them occupied in the car.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.