by Lori Lite
Family holidays are meant for relaxing around a leisurely meal with friends and loved ones. A few tips for Thanksgiving can get your family to the table with more smiles and less stress.
Prepare Your Children For Gatherings: Eliminate unnecessary anxiety associated with family gatherings. Look through photos of relatives the day before your event. Play memory games matching names to faces. This will help your children feel more comfortable with people they may not have seen in a while. Aunt Mary won’t seem quite so scary when she bends down to greet your child.
Write Things Down: Getting the constant chatter and lists out of your head decreases stress and anxiety. Kids love making lists. Give them a clip board or dry erase board. Assign them each a list. This will help you relax and help your children feel involved. Make sure they write “take a deep breath” and “laugh” somewhere on your list.
Incorporate Affirmations/Positive Statements Into Your Thanksgiving Dinner: This is empowering and reflective. Each person at the table can state an attribute of their own that they are thankful for. For example, “I am thankful that I am creative.” Feeling stressed? Try, “I am thankful that I am calm.” Your special needs child can prepare ahead with a drawing or sign language if they want to participate without speaking.
Don’t Rush: It’s simple; none of us are very good at rushing in a relaxed way. The two just do not go together. It is impossible for children or teens to rush. Make sure you leave enough time to enjoy the journey. Children with special needs should be given notice of transitions.
Schedule Downtime: Don’t overbook your children. It’s important to use this time for relaxation. Try staying in pajamas till noon. Pop your favorite popcorn and watch a movie when you wake up. You’ll be surprised how an hour or two of relaxing can rejuvenate your children’s bodies, minds, and spirits. Set up a safe space your child can enjoy downtime when they feel overstimulated at your house or at your relatives. Bring earphones and their special relaxation music or stories. The Indigo Dreams Series gives you choices and actual relaxation techniques. You can download it to their iPod.
Shopping: Avoid taking your children shopping on the busiest shopping days of the year. The chaos, noise of large crowds, and long lines will definitely add stress to your life. If your child is absolutely known to meltdown during shopping you can select a few gifts and bring them home. Set up a shopping experience in your home for your child. The whole family can participate. Have a checkout counter and a gift wrapping table.
Be Flexible: Don’t argue with your relatives just to win small arguments. Be an example of calm and peace to your children. Tell them what you are doing. Ask them to be flexible with the other children at the gathering. Discuss possible issues you know will come up, like sharing. Role-play solutions. Remind teens to be patient when listening to stories from Uncle Joe.
Let The Children Participate: Let your teen create place cards or a centerpiece. Let you little ones put the forks and napkins out. Let them draw a special Thanksgiving picture to place on your guest’s chair. Be prepared to accept their participation as perfect and wonderful. Restrain from correcting or straightening out the napkins.
Share Memories: Take a stroll down memory lane. Laugh at Thanksgivings past. Think of some of your favorite things you did as a child during fall. Go outside after dinner and step on leaves and crunch acorns with your children. Help them make a pile of leaves and jump in with them. It is easy to get caught up in the holidays and some of our most memorable were the ones that we kept simple.
Happy Thanksgiving from Stress Free Kids!
Learn to handle stress better with Indigo Dreams: Adult Relaxation…made by a real mom…feeling real stress…
Stress Free Kids founder Lori Lite has created a line of books and CDs designed to help children, teens, and adults decrease stress, anxiety, and anger. Ms. Lite’s books, CDs, and lesson plans are considered a resource for parents, psychologists, therapists, child life specialists, teachers, and yoga instructors. Lori is a certified children’s meditation facilitator and Sears’ Manage My Life parenting expert. For more information visit Stress Free Kids and for daily advice follow Lori onTwitter and Facebook.