Ah, the holidays—a time of rest, joyous family gatherings, and the harmonious sound of…meltdowns.
The reality is that this season often adds stress to families, especially for its youngest members.
Different schedules, new places, travel times, rich foods, family photos, and general overstimulation affect everything from mealtime to bedtime, which can contribute to not-so-merry meltdowns.
While grownups have the ability to command self-control faster, the brain’s pre-frontal cortex (where this function is typically associated) is not fully developed until adulthood. Additionally, relaxation is a learnedbehavior, which is why trying to reason with a toddler during a tantrum doesn’t usually work.
So, in the midst of holiday chaos, it’s important to gently teach children how to relax. Music and movement are some of the best tools out there to help little ones reset, recoup, and get ready for the next event.
5 Musical Tips for Easing Holiday Meltdowns
Rock gently together. When you start to notice your child teetering on the edge of a meltdown, invite your child to step away from the activity and go with you to a quiet place. Gently hold your child and rock together. (Added bonus if you can find a swing or rocking chair!)
While rocking together, help your child to label the feelings you witnessed. For example: “When I saw you stick out your lower lip, it looked like you were feeling sad because your cousin didn’t want to play what you wanted to play. After we finish taking a break together, can you think of something that you both might want to play?”
Listen to soothing music. On the way home from a holiday party or activity, listen to some relaxing music in the car. Research shows music can help children and adults relax. In fact, our heartbeats mimic the beat of the music!
Give your infant a massage while humming a lullaby. It’s never too early to teach children how to relax. While babies can never receive enough love and snuggles, the amount of new people wanted to hold and/or entertain them can be overwhelming.
At the end of the day, make some special one-on-one time for you and your baby. Give your child a gentle infant massage (like a heart massage on the chest, palm circles, etc.) to relax your little one. Adding a special lullaby makes it even more memorable—and relaxing.
Create a bedtime playlist. Traveling with young children to see friends and family often means disrupted bedtime routines, which can mean little sleep for everyone.
Help ease your child’s anxiety by creating a lullaby playlist to signal the start and the end of the bedtime routine wherever you may be.