Did Your Child Enjoy The Holidays?
The year end festivities are an excellent time to make new memories and to experience the traditions that make the season so special. Just as recent posts have suggested some anticipation and planning to make the most of the holidays with your children and extended families, the start of the new year is a good time for reflection as well.
Not only is there value in asking yourself what went well and what you might want to do differently in approaching the holidays next year, but posing some questions to your child can also be valuable. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the planning and preparation for the holidays, especially if travel is involved, we can actually miss out on being in the moment and enjoying it. Looking back on the experience may help to avoid that in the future.
When my own children were young, we often had a bedtime ritual that included talking about the best part of our day and the worst part of our day. In the beginning, I would share something about my day that made me happy or felt like an accomplishment and then my child would do the same. I would then offer an anecdote about something that was frustrating or disappointing, such as forgetting a friend’s birthday or getting a parking ticket. This type of conversation does many things, but most importantly it allows your child to reflect and process their experiences. It gives them practice with naming their feelings, and it provides them with a model of how to cope with any negative feelings they may experience in an appropriate way. It also shows them that everyone makes mistakes, or has moments that don't go well. It teaches them that they can safely talk about negative emotions. To put an even finer point on it, there is practice with turn taking, listening, increased vocabulary and using their expressive language skills.
Children quickly pick up on the drift of these discussions and get better at it as time goes on. I once mentioned this ritual to Ashley Durmer a dear friend, and parent in our school, and she not only had the same practice with her young children, Iris and Holden, but she had a terrific name for it ...roses and thorns. Whenever the topic of feelings was introduced at circle time, her children were well equipped to talk about emotions and spoke about them in a very thoughtful way, because they had lots of practice with such conversations at home.
Now that the decorations have been stored away and the holiday parties are over ask your child what the best thing about the holidays was for them. Was it a present they received? Or maybe making or choosing a gift for someone else was their favorite thing. And don't forget to ask them if there was anything they didn't like about the holidays, like not seeing a grandparent, or missing out on an event because a family member was sick or the weather didn’t cooperate. Letting them know that it is ok to be disappointed while at the same time sending them a message that you are confident that they can handle such feelings is another kind of gift that you can give them.
One of my yearly rituals is to bake brownies and deliver them to family and friends in the days before Christmas. It is a fantastic opportunity to check in with the people that I love and feeling that special connection is what I enjoy most about the holidays!
Please share your holiday roses and thorns… we love hearing from you!
We wish all of our readers a joyous, healthy and peaceful new year!