If you are celebrating the upcoming holiday and/or have other CELEBRATIONS coming soon like spring birthdays, anniversaries, or graduation parties, I want you to know that being VERY INTENTIONAL about every piece of it will ensure you all have a better time than you've had before.
Many of our children struggle at celebrations. They are just not wired to manage all of the social nuances, relationship rules, and other social expectations that come with these kinds of days.
Not to mention the challenges of regulating themselves around the abundance of food, the changes in boundaries, and other people who fill themselves up at the expense of our kiddos.
Most importantly, we need to remember it takes many, many years for our children to feel worthy of good things, which impacts when they feel truly connected. They live with the belief that they're not valuable enough for you to remember them, choose for them what they'd like, or even have enough for them.
When you are not wired to be in any given situation and you don't believe you are worthy of good, anxiety goes way up. Remember, when anxiety goes up, ability goes down! This is where being intentional matters - being the outside regulator, taking care of basic needs (even after years of the same celebration), and creating opportunities for success even if it means you do it differently.
As you make the plan for your next celebration, here are a few tips that will help it be more successful:
Every celebration includes food - the basic assurance of life. The most critical way into being your child's safety net. Always have at least one thing your child enjoys eating. So if that means you bring the mac and cheese to the celebration...that's what it means. Make sure your child knows this food will be available at the celebration.
Most celebrations include a gift of some sort. The true test of whether I am worthy of good things. Assure your child ahead of time that there will be a basket or gift for him and don't mistake his worry in this situation for him being rude, self-centered, or disrespectful.
If your celebration includes lots of people and/or a different place than home, make a plan to help your child manage his increasing anxiety. Set some limits like high-fives not hugs for everyone and be prepared to literally step in to help make that happen. Bring a bag of things your child will enjoy doing and find a quiet place within eye sight that they can hunker down and do that. Headphones and music work well. It's an escape so to speak.
Timing DOES matter! This one is pretty cut and dry...honor how hard this is and help your child succeed by heading for home before the melt down. You can lengthen your stay by being intentional and pulling him in, but eventually enough is enough.
Most importantly, know and remember that no matter what it looks like on the outside, your child is not comfortable, not sure of himself and not purposefully trying to ruin your celebration. He's not wired to be successful in this situation.
Ultimately, when we meet our children right where they are at, they feel safe. When they feel safe, they can be successful. When they are successful, they feel worthy. When they feel worthy, they feel connected. And so on.
Being intentional is where it all starts!
With great excitement for the future of your family,
P.S. If you want to hear more about this topic and other everyday game changers join me weekly in my Intentional Parent Coaching Group. Next session is tomorrow! Join Us