Sensory Scout Blog

Avoiding Holiday Meltdowns: 3 Priceless Tips

Posted by Vanessa Caalim on

Avoiding Holiday Meltdowns: 3 Priceless Tips
What comes to mind when you think about the holidays? Perhaps you picture crowds, bright lights and jolly sounds, a bustling house full of family, and mountains of frosted food. However you choose to celebrate, it’s a time of year that tends to be both bitter and sweet.
The holidays can be hectic. It’s easy to understand how your sensory child might be overwhelmed and overstimulated. Whatever the holidays mean to your family, we want to help make your winter break a time for connection and joy–not meltdowns and madness.

We hope these simple tips help you minimize or avoid holiday meltdowns. After all, everyone deserves a “Silent Night”--especially you!

What Causes Holiday Meltdowns?

There are quite a few holiday-specific things that might trigger a meltdown:

  • Visiting Santa - This could go one of two ways!
  • Crowded shopping malls - Stressful for almost everyone.
  • More bright lights and loud noises than ever
  • A vast shift in your regular daily schedule/routine
  • New faces as family and friends visit or stay over
  • Christmas excitement leading to a lack of sleep
  • Eating the wrong foods
  • People overstepping boundaries because they don’t know any better

    Yes, there are a lot of potential holiday triggers. But don’t worry–we’ve got you covered with some easy, tried-and-true tips to manage meltdowns.


    3 Tips to Manage Holiday Meltdowns

    Even Santa Has a Schedule

    Never underestimate the power of a schedule! One thing that contributes to overstimulation is simply being surprised and caught off guard by new routines and events. This makes sense because all children crave safety and stability.
    A wall calendar can be highly beneficial. It might have words, stickers, or drawings representing activities and special occasions. Knowing what’s coming will be of great comfort to your kiddo as the holidays near, dissolving their anxiety and fear.

    A Code Word Saves the Day

    This tip is fun because it lets you keep a “good secret” with your child. Together, pick a “code word” that means something to the two of you. When your child uses it, you’ll know right away that they’re overwhelmed and need help. Maybe it’s “Cheese Whiz” or “Sprinkles.”
    Whatever it is, no one else has to understand the code as you tend to your child’s needs. Knowing they can use this “magic word” at any time will help your child feel more empowered, organized, and supported.

    Keep an Eye on Sweets and Treats

    Often, the holidays usher in a whole new menu. Your child might have access to candies, sweets, and baked treats they’ve never tried before. Or you might be visiting family and enjoying their cooking.

    If your child has food sensitivities or allergies, you’ll probably have to be more vigilant and allow for extra planning over the holidays. But whatever efforts you make, they’ll more than pay off in the end. To help your child feel included in the festivities, make sure they have special options that suit their needs: sugar-free candy, dairy-free hot cocoa, or gluten-free cakes.

    Holiday Meltdowns: The Gift of a Parent’s Love

    Whether you exchange gifts or not, the most essential ingredient in supporting your child is the gift of your unconditional love. You can improve your child’s holiday experience tremendously by sharing your patience, time, and understanding.

    It is important to remember that meltdowns are a cry for help. Whether your child is overstimulated, anxious, confused, or dealing with food sensitivity, they are counting on you to guide them through it. Simply by being present with them, you are making a huge difference.

    At Sensory Scout, we have some excellent, travel-friendly sensory solutions that can help ease the stress and anxiety of the holiday season. Fidget spinners and squeeze toys make great pre-holiday gifts that will help soothe your child the whole year through.

    Avoiding Holiday Meltdowns: Conclusion

    If your child has been acting unusually fussy lately, take a moment to consider whether you have decorations, sounds, or activities around the house that are new. It might help to minimize some of these elements.

    If you have yet to decorate, be sure and include your sensory child in the fun! Feeling like they helped and being involved in the process are empowering actions that make your child more likely to accept the changes.
    Whatever the holidays hold for you and your family, tips to minimize meltdowns can be practiced all year round. We hope these ideas and habits help make your season very merry and filled with delight!