4 Quick Fixes for Parenting through the Holidays

4 Quick Fixes for Parenting through the Holidays

Specially in the run up to crazy holidays 😳, it can be easy to get so focussed on your to-do list that the kids end up taking a kind of a back-seat. (It can feel like: ‘Just wait there for 24 days, while I plan one fabulous day at the end of it all’ :p )

Remember: less connection time —> leads to a build up of tension and upset —> which comes out as an increase in meltdowns and/or nutty, tense, off-track behaviour.

Here are some simple fixes to improve holiday parent-kid connection (and hence kid behaviour).

It basically comes down to… filling their love and laughter ‘buckets’ as much as possible and making sure you help them empty out their ‘stress bucket’ as much and as often as needed. To do this…

1) Keep on checking-in. Have they met their ‘giggle quota’, for the day? Kids NEED loving, connected, giggle-fueled play, every day (natural, free flowing laughter that is not mechanically-triggered by tickling, of course :) ). Take 5 minutes out for some ‘bucking bronco’, a good old fashioned pillow fight or some other silly tom-foolery that is proven to get you laughing together with your kids. :D

2) Kids need to FEEL heard and seen in a love-in-action kind of a way. If they are telling you something that is important to them… ‘shut up and listen’. :p  Put down your phone/important future Pinterest-star craft/vegetable prepping and just tune-in to them and what they are saying to you, in that moment.

3) If the tension has built up for them (as it does for all of us, at this time of year), remember that crying is not the problem; crying is the healing. Crying and tantruming are ways kids let the ‘steam’ and tension out. If you can stay with them and listen while they cry or rage or otherwise vent about how hard it is when everyone is sooooo busy and stressed and focussed elsewhere – they can feel loved despite and through these tricky feelings. They can know there is stress AND they are loved. Letting the ‘bad’ feelings out is one of the fastest ways to help them return to their sunniest, happiest, most relaxed and cooperative place. ;)

These are the ways kids FEEL loved: PLAY, feeling someone is LISTENING to them, TIME spent centred on them. Play, listening, time…

4) If any or all of this is sounding like toooo much for you to deliver right now (and boy I know that feeling)… first, BREATHE. Then, consider that YOU may need some good, connected listening for yourself, right now. You may need to get some of YOUR stress and tension out. If you don’t already have a Listening Partnership, consider setting one up. If that is impractical right now, at the very least, tune-in to your feelings and acknowledge that you are overwhelmed or just a bit overstretched emotionally – and take time to talk to a trusted, supportive friend or journal or take a walk nature. What re-fills YOUR cup?

— — —

Do I do manage to stay perfectly calm and connected to my kids ALL the time? Sadly, no. We all know, 90% of connection-based parenting is preventative! But these are some of the touchstones I come back to, kind of like parenting-first-aid: quick fixes when our relationship is far off track and I need to get back to connection, fast.

Further reading for the season:

– Aha Parenting reminding us we don’t have to be perfect parents to enjoy a fantastic holiday.
– ‘Standing Your Ground as a Parent’ by Genevieve Simperingham of The Way of the Peaceful Parent
– Hand in Hand Parenting’s “It’s not fair” – coping when your child complains over the holidays”

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How Connected Play helped my child overcome competitiveness

How Connected Play helped my child overcome competitiveness


When my daughter Nika was 5 years old, she was getting more and more uptight about the winning and losing thing. She was becoming extremely competitive, in a very ungracious way – always wanting to win, being a sore loser and frankly a ‘sore winner’, too, quick to rub it in everyone’s face.

One day, quite spontaneously, her dad burst into a game which ended up being an inspired way to help her loosen up about this.

They were both playing Uno (the card game). Nika was doing an ugly, little ‘I win’ dance each time she won – full of tension and held-back feelings, I can see now. Then her dad won. He took off running through the house, yelling to everyone that he won!! She giggled and ran after him.

It’s the giggles that tell you you are on the right track, when it comes to Connected Play. If the kids are giggling, you know you are onto something, you are close to the emotional rub. Each peel of laughter is them letting go of a bit of tension on this subject.

The next round they played, daddy lost. Nika started doing her (even goofier) version of a victory-lap around the house… her dad followed her and started gleefully shouting ‘I lose! I lose! I lose!’. She – and all of us – thought the whole thing was hilarious. And now everyone wanted to lose (or win or just play a game through) to get to do a funnier-than-the-last-person’s victory or failure running dance. :)

And now, over two years later, I can report that not only was this little game (which got repeated a few times and kind of incorporated into our game playing, for a while) super fun for everyone but it also ushered in with it a new lighter attitude toward winning and losing. It helped bring a change in my daughter’s attitude in playing competitive games with others. 

In fact, since then, I have been amazed to observe – a few times, now – that not only can she win and lose more gracefully and be a ‘good sport’ about things but on occasions she has been positively, glowingly supportive of other kids when they were having trouble in this area.

For example, a kid once came round who was really tense around losing, in particular, and in fact started to cheat so that she could win. My daughter saw the other girl was cheating but had the maturity to ‘let her’ get away with it and essentially just smiled along, indulgently – without even calling her out on it. Overall, she has shifted in such a way that it is almost night and day and she can now – on a good day, at least – be visibly happy for others when they win. :)

So, yeah, if your kids are getting really stressed about winning and losing and you want to help them overcome this… I’d try some Connected Play first. When you see them getting uptight about this issue and if you are in a place where you can genuinely, warmly find a playful response to what is arising, go for it. Keep it fresh and light. Use this game or make up your own – just remember to follow the giggles. That is the path that will lead to success in helping kids release their tension around how hard it can be to lose and how important it can feel to WIN! Help them giggle those tensions away.