The holidays introduce a whole series of new stimuli to kids – some of which are wonderful, and some which lead to anxiety and meltdowns. While there’s no sure way to avoid heightened sensitivity and emotion during the season of celebration, it can be very helpful to keep track of exactly what will set kids off. Comforting Anxious Children provides a list of common triggers for kids, as well as solutions parents and families, can work with to mitigate stress and panic.
Changes to your child’s routine can trigger tantrums or anxiety. To get ahead of this, it can be helpful to make plans – big and small – visually clear in your household. A big, colorful calendar can build excitement rather than fear and can help kids feel like they’re participating in upcoming events as opposed to having a schedule imposed upon them.
New faces at holiday events can be another trigger, especially for shy or anxious kids. You can help by talking about who will be attending parties, who kids will get to see, remind them of the names and character traits of family members they don’t get to see every day. Make it feel special rather than overwhelming them with the novelty of large gatherings.
Noisy environments during holiday events, whether at shopping malls, fairs, pageants or meals, can be sensory overload for kids. Create a safe space by openly discussing their needs and their comfort levels before, during and after visiting hectic environments so that they feel connected to you, and give them permission to speak up when they want a break.