Part 4: Parent’s Guide – The ABC’s for Surviving the Hectic Holidays
Congratulations and welcome back! Today’s our last installment on tips for surviving the hectic holidays!
S is for SOCIAL STORIES:
The holiday season will bring new experiences to many little ones. But, many of our little ones do not like the unexpected. So, it is best to prepare your loved ones with social stories of events they may have not encountered previously. I often will use Power Point Slide Shows or Keynote presentations to describe an upcoming social situation that my students will encounter for the first time. I suggest adding photos to allow them to become more familiar with a new environment. Being able to practice these stories will assist in making the experience more valuable and likely you will observe less negative behaviors. It is a win-win for everyone! Try the website to find a variety of pre-made Social Stories. Or, for more ideas, feel free to email me!
T is for TECHNOLOGY:
I can’t speak for others, but when I am in public, I do suffer from guilt when my two kids are playing their iPad or 3DS in a restaurant. Both have their place when it comes to providing educational games, but I hate to think that the kids appear to be reliant or almost addicted to technology. However, I also feel that if it gets mom and dad one meal out with a little more peace and quiet, then so be it!!!! That is so rare-going out to dinner these days is such a treat, that if playing Mario Kart or engaging in a little bit of Toca Boca or Temple Run during that 1.5 hours is perceived as demonstrating poor table manners, then I guess I can live with that! Dinner at our home is void of technology and chock full of loving and engaging conversation. Once in awhile, being sucked into the iPad won’t hurt!
U is for UNEXPECTED:
If you are familiar with the popular teaching methodology known as Social Thinking (by Michelle Garcia Winner, MA CCC-SLP), you may know that the terms “expected” and “unexpected” behavior are used to assist children in understanding social behavior. Well…the holiday season sure does bring out the most unexpected in people. People get rude and pushy in stores (sadly I must add), and often times children witness this. But what a great teaching moment that can be! Have your child talk about how others act unexpectedly and how that makes others feel. What excellent, real-life, in the moment scenarios…up close and vivid for all to analyze and learn from. Discuss with your child what would have been a more acceptable or “expected” way to handle themselves in such a situation. For those who are familiar, a Social Behavior Map could be performed afterwards. For more information about Mapping and Social Thinking, check out www.socialthinking.com. All wonderful information is provided on the website. Another great link for Social Behavior Mapping
V is for VISUAL SCHEDULE:
There can be a lot of unforeseen events during the holidays. Being off your usual routine is difficult for most, but even more so for children who have special needs. For the little one’s who experience difficulty deviating from routine, it is quite important to review the events of the day if they are different than most. Creating a visual schedule to illustrate what the child can expect will give comfort in knowing what is coming next. For many, this relieves a good amount of anxiety. Here’s a few examples of visual supports and strategies for learners.
W is for WRAPPING PAPER:
What a great fine motor task! Have your son or daughter assist in wrapping gifts for others. Gives them responsibility and helps build fine-motor patterns. Unwrapping gifts can also be a great task to support a child’s fine motor skills. However, if there is a chance this may frustrate your child to the point of no return and a tantrum may result, well…then there is nothing wrong with a gift bag and some colorful tissue paper that can then be used as a sensory toy (toss the tissue).
X is for FLEXIBILITY:
Yes I know “flexibility” does not start with X…but we are flexible enough to be ok with X being in the middle of the word, right? Holidays, as well planned as they may be, do not always go smoothly. We really do need to remember to be flexible. This is challenging for EVERYONE! The best made plans always seem to fail they say. So, make the best of the errors and blunders. Someday, maybe the frustrating boo boos will make for a great story…”remember when….”
Y is for YESTERDAY:
Do not forget all the goods and gains from yesterday! I try to keep a Jar of Joys. I reflect upon the best things that happened to my family and me from the day before. When I encounter a gem, I write the funny saying or happy thought one of my kids uttered down on a piece of paper and add it to my Jar of Joy. Some days it is much easier to focus on the negative than it is to look for the positive. But, it is so very worth looking for those positives, no matter how minimal!!! Every so often, I take a second to peek at the papers I have accumulated in the jar and appreciate all the small details that are just too easy to forget!
Z is for ZEN:
Last but certainly not least, I suggest that you find your state of zen! Stay in the moment and breathe. Learn how to calm your mind and body by taking in soothing breaths and slowly releasing them. Because when all is said and done, the true “GIFT” of the holiday season is to be in the “PRESENT!”