Growing up, there were certain situations that were always harder for me than for my brothers. I’d shrink away from loud parties, or start crying the second certain commercials came on, or basically have an emotional breakdown anytime I thought I disappointed anyone…and we (my family) just chocked it up to my personality. As an adult, I’ve come to realize that there are some things I’m just Way more sensitive to than other people. And now that I’ve got nieces and nephews, I see the same things happening with some of them. That’s why I wanted to give you a short guide for how to help your sensitive child deal during the holidays. This time of year is supposed to be all happiness and song, but for someone who is sensitive to outside stimuli it can be a nightmare. Hopefully these tips will ease things for you and your sensitive child.
How To Help Your Sensitive Child Deal During The Holidays
1. Loud, bright places are bad – So while some children might enjoy the bright lights, loud music and general chaos of a toy store, that environment is going to be painful for your sensitive child. If you’re going to take them, make sure it’s a more intimate store. Maybe a boutique or a small out of the way mom and pop store. They’ll love the experience and especially the chance to enjoy the magic of Christmas without the craziness.
2. Pictures with Santa – While having a picture taken with Santa is something some kids dream about, your sensitive child isn’t going to like waiting in line with all the other kids and parents, sitting on a stranger’s lap, and having their picture taken. Basically, this is your sensitive child’s worst nightmare. So decide which is more important…that picture, or keeping your child out of uncomfortable situations.
3. Big parties – There’s a huge holiday party happening at work and the whole family is invited. While some kids are going to have a blast, your child is going to either stay tucked into your side or find a quiet corner to read in. If you have to go, let them find a place that’s comfortable to them and accept that this is how your child is going to deal.
4. Loud relatives – We ALL have some relatives whose inside voices are really more suited for outside. While we love them, your sensitive child may not. And that’s okay. Let your child gage who they’re going to spend time with, and for how long. Just because your relative is super excited about seeing your child, doesn’t mean the feeling is mutual. Also, don’t feel bad about the snub. Your child is far from rude and this might be how they need to cope. Accept that, support your child, and move along.
5. Movie theaters – The new Star Wars movie is super exciting for a lot of people and you might even think it’s going to be an awesome outing for your family, but your sensitive child isn’t going to have a great time with the loud sound effects and crowded theater. It’s okay for you to leave them home with a sitter or their favorite relative. They’ll be happier, and you can always cuddle up together and watch It’s A Wonderful Life with them later. They’ll Love that.
6. Emotional situations – Sensitive people in general are going to react stronger to emotional situations than most other people, and your sensitive child is no exception. If a family squabble begins, or something intensely emotional starts anywhere near your child, be prepared for a breakdown. Truth be told, you can’t protect your sensitive child from everything, so just make sure you’re prepared for this event and be there to support your child through it. They’ll be fine once the emotions are over, but it’s really best to let them feel them until then.
Whether your child has sensory processing issues, or is truly just highly sensitive like me, the most important thing is that you’re aware of their body language and how situations are affecting them. That doesn’t mean you keep your child away from every social situation or thing that might make them slightly uncomfortable, it simply means being aware of when things are too much and making sure you have a plan for how to help your child deal. The holidays are going to be happier for both of you as long as you recognize that their needs are truly as important as your own.