Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

6 Tips to Prevent Exhausted and Overactive Kids During the Holidays

Here is a great question from a parent who wants help with young kids during the holiday season:

Q: Every holiday season, we travel to see relatives, eat too many sweets and are exhausted because the kids miss naps and get to bed late. Consequently, our toddlers behave badly during this time of year. It seems like all we do is discipline them. What can we do to help our two little ones with their behavior during this hectic time?

A: You’ve already pointed out the problem—disruption of routine, poor nutrition and sleep. Add the hype of the holidays and you have over-stimulated, sugar crazed, sleepless kids who will act out more than usual. But with a little prevention, you can minimize their inappropriate behavior.


Here is how: 1) Routines and rituals: Try to keep as many going as you can. Even when you travel, insist on a regular bedtime. Take their favorite toy, stuffed animal or blanket for reassurance and familiarity. I f possible, make naps a priority and plan around them. Whatever you can do to approximate their normal schedule will help.

2) Choose TV and videos carefully. Pick shows and videos that are calming and present the true meaning of the holiday.  If you can record shows, bypass commercials so that the constant barrage of toys is minimized. Limit time in front of screens and take your kids out to exercise and work off some of their excitement and energy.


3) Insist on healthy eating despite the extra snacks. Prepare meals versus grabbing fast food on the run. Allow special treats but monitor how many are consumed.

4) Inform your kids regarding activities. Tell them where you are going and what is expected in terms of their behavior. Ahead of time, discuss rewards for appropriate behavior rather than waiting to discipline for acting out.

5) Keep as many family traditions as possible as these are comforting to children.

6) Laugh as a family. The more fun and laughter in a home, the less stressed everyone will be. Notice that all of these tips focus on keeping routines, eating well and getting rest—three known ways to help a child with his or her behavior. If you provide these basics, the extra stress of the holidays will go better for all of you.

  • BenG

    Dear Linda

    A very informative blog highlighting the importance of routine and proper nutrition. It’s all too easy to slip int o the habit of letting your children eat what they like, and have no routine, but this is the most important time, as they do not have the routine of being at school. This is also very important when taking kids on holiday, as i have learnt. Structure, healthy diet and plenty of fresh air, combined with a safe environment (mainly for the peace of mind for the parents!) are all equally important facts, which should lead to not only wel behaved, productive kids, but will embed these routines and ways of thinking, leading to potential long term benefits.

    Great stuff.

  • Pingback: 6 Tips to Prevent Exhausted and Overactive Kids During the Holidays | Dr. Linda Mintle

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