Positive Parenting Tips for the Holidays

The holidays are around the corner! It’s such a busy, exciting time, but it’s also difficult to navigate all the holiday festivities with little ones that need constant routine and structure. Here are my best tips to maintain you Positive Parenting approach during the holidays.

Set Age-Appropriate Expectations

Consider and set age-appropriate expectations for holiday celebrations. It’s important to set limits (and stick to them). Determine your spending limit for presents, limit the number of holiday activities, and consider limits any time you’re deviating from your normal routine. For example, if you’re going to allow your little one to stay up later on New Year’s Eve, set a strict limit (and maybe have a faux count down to midnight).

If your children are very little, consider a quantity limit on presents instead of a spending limit. They will better understand the limit if they are getting 4 presents, rather than $100 of presents. In our family, we do 4 gifts: something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.

Include Kids in Holiday Decisions

Discuss holiday plans as a family! Let your children have some input on the activities. Involving kids fills their bucket. It gives them a strong sense of belonging and significance, which is in alignment with Positive Parenting principles. Easy ways to include them are to let them choose holiday movies or holiday menu items.

Don’t Over Schedule

It’s tempting to pack your holiday schedule so you can see all your family and friends. This can often cause issues for littles that are used to specific routines. You might encounter brutal meltdowns and tantrums, which can be frustrating and embarrassing. Avoid this temptation! Instead, opt for a flexible schedule and include important elements of your normal routine.

Maintain Familiar Routines

Kids thrive on routine. Even though you might need to deviate from your normal schedule, be sure to include some important parts of you kids routine. Meal times, snack times, naps and bedtimes are key components that you should try to maintain even during the holidays.

Celebrate with Family Traditions

Just like routines, Family Traditions become familiar to kids. When kids know what’s up next, they are much less likely to experience meltdowns. Family traditions can be things like picking out a Christmas Tree at a local farm after Thanksgiving Dinner, or making holiday cookies the first weekend in November. It could also be having a familiar, special meal during a holiday celebration.

Family Traditions will create lasting memories for your family!

Share the Extra Work

Holidays general mean extra work. From meal prep to gift wrapping, there’s plenty to keep the whole family busy. Assign responsibilities to each family member. It will take the pressure off you, and give your children another opportunity to feel a sense of belonging and significance.

Focus on Acts of Service

Instead of discussing gifts and making wishlist, try focusing on acts of service. Kids can make a list of things they’d like to do to contribute to their family or community. Look for ways to fill other people’s bucket during the holiday season!

Never Force Affection

If kids feel uncomfortable giving hugs and kisses, respect their boundaries. It may be difficult for Aunt Karen to accept that your little one does not want a kiss, but forcing your child to accept unwanted hugs and kisses can have long term negative impacts.

So plan your response ahead of time, and include your kids in the conversation. It could be something as simple as telling little Emma that Auntie may want kisses, but if she’s not comfortable with it, ask if a high five or fist bump will do. In the moment, you can easily defuse an awkward situation with “Emma’s very conservative with affection, how about a quick elbow bump?”

Focus on Family, Feelings, and Festivities

The holidays are a wonderful, magical time. It’s really easy to get caught up in gifts and special activities. Don’t let gift hunting or Elf on a Shelf scenes consume you. Remind yourself that your focus should be on Family, Feelings of Joy and Gratitude, and Festivities that create lasting memories with your loved ones.

13 Positive Parenting Tips for the Holidays
13 Positive Parenting Tips for the Holidays
13 Positive Parenting Tips for the Holidays

Limit Gifts (and encourage experience gifts over material gifts)

Gifts are a lovely part of the holidays. Gift giving fills the buckets of everyone involved. Take care not to over-do it, however! Limit the number of gifts, and encourage experiences over material items. Friends and family of all ages will appreciate the memories made with ‘experience’ type gifts.

Great experience gifts include: movie tickets, cooking classes, ice skating lessons, farm tours, hotel stay, and water park passes.

Plan for Meltdowns

You’re probably noticing a theme with the Positive Parenting Tips for the holidays. Planning is key. Any time you deviate from your normal routine you increase the risk of a total meltdown. Have a plan to deal with meltdowns, especially when you’re away from home. Bring along a couple of calming items, like small sensory toys or coloring kits. Ask your host ahead of time if there’s a quiet space you can sneak off to if your little one needs a break. Also bring favorite snacks (or even treats) in case hanger is part of the equation.

Always Follow Through, Even on Holidays

It’s tempting to let things slide during the holidays. It’s a special occasion, after all. But if you set rules, limits, and expectations, you need to follow through. By caving, you’re sending the message that rules can be broken sometimes, and you’ll find your little ones challenging their boundaries even after the holidays are over!

Practice Gratitude

The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. Choosing to practice gratitude as a family will bring you closer together and help you appreciate each other. Here are few ways to practice gratitude around the holidays.

  • Write Thank-You Messages in Holiday Cards
  • Start a Gratitude Jar
  • Perform Random Acts of Kindness Together
  • Do a Family Gratitude Collage

Do you have any Positive Parenting Tips for the Holidays? Share what works for your family!

24 thoughts on “Positive Parenting Tips for the Holidays”

  1. Great post! Over scheduling is always a big one in the back of our minds. The Christmas season is such a joyous time! We have a large family and an even larger extended family! It’s so easy to jam the schedule full. I remember what it was like as a child to look forward to family time during the holidays and then not have any *quality* family time. We always try to be mindful of making sure we don’t stretch our schedule too tight to ensure our children get the time with us that they deserve!

  2. Very useful ideas! We always try to make everything right that we forget that holidays is a family issue! With the right schedule and sharing some work we have some more time with our family to spend! Thank you!

  3. I think it’s also important as parents to let go of expectations too. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to create a magical experience and ending up with unrealistic expectations myself. A lot of your suggestions can fit in with that. This year I’d like to add more focus on gratitude and giving back to others through kind acts

  4. I truly enjoyed your article on positive parenting during the holidays. If I can follow even half your tips, I’ll consider this Christmas a success! 🙂 Thank you for your thoughtful guidance.

  5. My biggest focus in the last few years has been to be present. Everything doesn’t need to be perfect and I need to slow down personally. When I do that I enjoy Christmas more, they enjoy Christmas more and things go a lot more smoothly when I’m fully present and not thinking of the 7 dish dinner “should” make. I love your tips and will be using them this year for sure. Have a wonderful holiday season!

  6. This holiday season is going to be nuts! I feel like it might be harder than normal to stay positive. Thank you for the great advice.

  7. These are wonderful ideas. I feel like I always bought too many gifts for my kids when little. I like your idea of sharing the work, I usually felt overwhelmed and didn’t enjoy the holidays as much as I could have.

  8. Great list! I love how you suggest keeping things age appropriate. It makes such a difference when you remember that little kids need more time to adjust and understand situation. We have always given our kids lots of advanced notice, like we’re leaving in 15 minutes so they can mentally prepare and avoid meltdown. Thanks for the great share!

  9. Awesome tips! It’s hard to enjoy the holidays properly when you’ve got so many thoughts running around in your head.

  10. Thank you so much for highlighting that kids shouldn’t be forced to accept hugs or kisses from people! Kids need to feel they are in control of their body in cases like these!!!!

  11. These are great positive parenting tips. I know my kids always struggled more when each and every day was jam-packed during the holidays. We switched to giving mostly ‘experience’ gifts over the past few years. I love it and so do my kids! We’re at a point now where they tend to either ask for books or experiences.

  12. These tips are spot-on. Especially the maintaining familiar routines, not overscheduling, and focusing on traditions and gratitude. One of our girls has learning differences, and without these basics, the holidays are a complete disaster for her – and for the rest of us!

  13. Indepth post, nicely written. I wasn’t really aware of what positive parenting was so thanks for enlightening me. We keep a daily gratitude journal with our kids and it has been a real game changer during these, erm… strange times.

    We also do mindfulness with the kids and yoga and use daily mantras, such as “Be strong, be funny, be courageous, be kind.” This is a reworking of the 4 stoic virtues which we remodelled with more child friendly adjectives.

  14. Much helpful ideas, sometimes over scheduling results in disaster, everything should be done in a limit. You have explained all the points very nicely. Will surely help us to have a stress free days to enjoy our festivals and holidays.

  15. Great tips! I especially appreciate not forcing affection. So often kids are uncomfortable in situations where they are forced to show affection and it’s so important to teach them early on that their feelings are heard.

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