The holidays are in full swing, and so are the moods of my littles.
As I carry my flailing son surfboard-style up the stairs to take a nap he is vehemently resisting but desperately needs, I can’t help but be reminded—the holidays aren’t just hard on us; they’re hard on our children, as well.
They’re hard on the children who crave structure and routine, and whose only method of coping with seasonal disruption is by throwing epic-sized tantrums.
They’re hard on the children who get easily overwhelmed during social gatherings where they’re forced outside of their comfort zones and expected to interact with people they don’t see very often.
They’re hard on the children with sensory processing disorders, for whom the chaos and noise and commotion can easily send into sensory overload.
They’re hard on the children who have compromised immune systems, or health conditions that mean even a common cold can turn into something more serious.
They’re hard on the children whose families don’t look like a traditional one. Children who spend the holidays going back and forth between homes or acutely aware of one parent’s absence.
They’re hard on the children whose fathers or mothers are in the military, or first-responders, or medical professionals, or simply have to work a holiday shift because they need the money and have no other choice.
They’re hard on the children whose families can’t afford to buy them presents or indulge in lavish holiday meals.
They’re hard on the children who are sick and have to spend the holidays in a hospital bed instead of their own.
The holidays can dredge up painful memories and buried feelings of anger and resentment. They can be a stressful, exhausting, emotionally draining time for all of us.
But let’s try to remember that our children might struggle, too.
They might lash out, or withdraw, or shut down, or go into overdrive. They might have meltdowns over the seemingly smallest of things.
We have to remind ourselves that our children have the same overwhelming feelings we do, but they don’t always know how to express them in constructive or appropriate ways.
So the best thing we can do is try to put ourselves in their shoes, and consider the situation from their perspectives.
Ask ourselves whether their behavior is the root issue, or really just a symptom of something deeper.
And show them as much grace, compassion, patience, and understanding as we would want shown to us.
Above all, this holiday season, let’s remember the impact it may have on our littles.
And make sure to love them big.