We all know the drill. A holiday, birthday or (dare we mention it) Christmas is looming on the horizon and the kids are so excited that nothing is fun anymore. It’s easy for stress levels to be high in these situations. Particularly when your over-excited children are unable to sleep and are suffering tantrums and tears. It can quickly take a special situation to something you dread to ever repeat! And with events such as Christmas and birthdays they aren’t so easy to simply cancel. So it is easy to ensure you have strategies in place for managing excitement levels.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of events, as well as taking our desire to make occasions special and memorable for our children to extremes. Particularly in the run-up to Christmas – the endless parties, late nights, trips to see Santa and preparations for the big day itself. It can all leave us as frazzled and as stressed-out as the children!
Preparation is the key to surviving the countdown to a special event with your sanity intact. Letting your children know what’s going to happen, and when it’s going to happen, can remove some of the unpredictability which can cause tears.
Spreading out the excitement is another good tactic. For example, you could spread out the gifts for a birthday or Christmas over a few days to help diffuse the excitement and make it less overwhelming. Similarly, you could plan in smaller fun events in the run-up to something big, like going shopping for new holiday clothes or going on a Christmassy trip.
Tips for Managing Excitement Levels
Managing (not removing) the excitement is the goal here. It is all part of the fun for children to super excited for upcoming events. These top tips will help control the excitement to a level that you can all enjoy and will ensure things don’t end in tears.
1. Use countdown strategies
Special events are exciting, there’s no point trying to ignore it. Letting them know what’s happening will validate that excitement but will also reassure them that the seemingly endless waiting for an event will end eventually.
Visual countdowns such as advent calendars work best. If your event is a long way off, make a countdown calendar together (something which they can physically tick off each day) and mark on the dates of fun things you’ll do together in the run-up to the event.
2. Be flexible with your routine
Whether you’re visiting people at Christmas or enjoying a summer holiday, keeping to the same routines you have at home just isn’t going to work. Whether it’s their bedtime, how many treats they’re allowed to eat, or when they can open presents; you should agree in advance what the special occasion rules are and stick to them.
3. Don’t use empty threats
When bad behaviour and tantrums become a problem around special occasions, it’s all too easy to resort to threats. A recent example of this is the Elf on the Shelf. The mischievous elf who comes to life when you’re not watching and reports back to Santa every night.
But, far from encouraging good behaviour, psychologists suggest that using the threat of an elf who reports back your bad behaviour can leave children feeling scared, ashamed and confused. So, unless you’re prepared to follow through on the threat of ‘no presents on Christmas Day’, it’s best to leave that cheeky elf in the box.
Accept That Tears Will Happen
Children are experts on picking up on when you’re stressed. They are your own personal stress-barometer! So, if worrying about potential melt-downs and children who won’t do what they’re told is making you want to scream and shout, it’s only going to make things worse.
It’s perhaps easier said than done but remaining calm and accepting that tears and tantrums may still happen despite all you’ve done to avoid it, can really help. But most of all, make sure that you make time to enjoy these special events too. It’s ok to be excited, just not too excited!