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Parenting through the Holidays: Therapist shares tips for holiday gatherings

Stacy McCann of Present Moment Counseling shares tips and tricks for avoiding parent burnout around the holidays.

ST. LOUIS — With all of the joy the holidays bring, they can often times bring some stress, too. Monday morning, Stacy McCann with Present Moment Counseling, joined Mary in studio with tips to avoid parent burnout during the holiday season. 

She shared 4 easy reminders to follow:

  1. Prep kids, but not too much. 
    • Kids need to feel prepared but the more you hype an event, the more kids can become anxious about it! Stick to the facts with no extra hype. Explain who will be there, where they're going, and what they'll do. Remember, the younger they are, the more immediate the prep needs to be. Don't prep your two-year-old a week before the event!
  2. Provide an escape. 
    • Scout out the location and find an empty, quiet room you can escape to with your child. Keep an eye on your child's signals, and when they seem to be ramping up, provide them that escape BEFORE it gets to full on tantrum mode. Bring one or two calming/regulating activities (coloring, legos, little cars) and allow them to play for a few minutes in a quiet and calm space, then bring them back when you feel they're ready. Do this as many times as needed! For an older child, you can even have a code word that gives them the opportunity to secretly ask for the escape themselves! Bonus: this provides a break for the parent too!
  3. Tunnel vision. 
    • Your only job at a holiday event is to support yourself and your family. Your parenting choices come first, no matter what Great Aunt Marge says. You don't have to justify your parenting to anyone but yourself, so when your child needs you, put on your blinders and blur out the world around you.
  4. Not a reflection. 
    • Most importantly, please know that your child's behavior over the holidays is NOT a reflection of your parenting! Just like adults, children experience stress over the holidays. Of course they'll display abnormal behavior during this time. The holidays are not normal! You can do everything you can to prepare and still face tantrums during gift-opening, or refusal to eat anything but cookies. But this is just one moment in time; once you're through, repair and reconnect, and you'll be back to the family you enjoy in no time.

You can find further information about Present Moment Counseling at presentmomentcs.com.

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