How to Prevent Those Holiday Meltdowns

Dec 13, 2023 / Pediatrics

By Dr. Tara Thurston
Department of Pediatrics

Few things are more dreaded than when your toddler throws a huge temper tantrum at your holiday gathering. It can add a lot of stress during that special time of year that you and your family want to enjoy. Unfortunately, tantrums are common around the holidays because changes in family routine, new activities, and unfamiliar guests can make young children feel emotionally overwhelmed and more prone to a meltdown. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent holiday tantrums from happening. The key is preparing your child for what’s ahead so they can deal with the changes and added stress that the holidays can bring:

  • Be sure to let your child know what to expect during the holidays. If traveling, how long will it take to get there? Which friends or relatives will be enjoying the holidays with the family? How long will they stay over?
  • Showing pictures of past gatherings can help familiarize your child with family members they haven’t seen in a while and make them feel more at ease.
  • On the morning of the holiday, go over the plan for the day and let your child know what you expect from them in terms of everything from table manners to snacking and when bedtime will be.
  • If other children will be present, it’s a good idea to set the parameters in advance for how they will play and entertain themselves. Are video games permissible? Is it okay for the children to play outside?

The more your child knows about what is expected, the better the chance that the holidays will go smoother for everyone involved. While all tantrums can’t be avoided, they can be reduced. And even one less tantrum can make a really big difference around the holidays!

How to Prevent Those Holiday Meltdowns

About Tara Thurston, DO

Dr. Tara Thurston always knew she wanted to go into medicine. “When I was younger, I thought I’d be a vet after helping to deliver and raise the neighbor’s puppies,” she explains. “Later, I realized how much I like the human aspects of medicine – especially getting to know patients and their families.”

Dr. Thurston believes she made a great choice when she decided to specialize in pediatrics. “Kids can be so spirited...

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