For our intense, super-sensitive and hyper-reactive neurodivergent children, Christmas can be a huge challenge: dealing with transitions from normal life, sudden social changes (of what is happening when with whom), the stress experienced around expectations, not being able to sleep well because of the excitation or the anxiety experienced.
Luckily there is a collection of helpful posts filled with tools and strategies that address issues that might pop up around the festive days, to help create a calm and enjoyable festive days with our family.
Preparation is half the work
The 4-7-8 Alarm
As always, the key is to start with taking good care of ourselves. We set the 4-7-8 alarm, a simple tool, so we do not build up any unhelpful stress, which will also help us to stay calm, focused and might help to prevent escalations.
Applying the 4-7-8 Alarm in challenging periods of our life can be both a huge support and make a real difference as it will help us to stay calm and perhaps handle the situation in a more constructive way.
The Awareness Mantra
We try to apply the awareness mantra as soon as we are aware of any unhelpful thought e.g. “I wish it was January”, “Why can’t my child just enjoy the festivities”, “Ooh gosh I hope my mum is a bit more understanding to our child over Christmas compared with last year”, “I hate Christmas, it’s exhausting”. Followed up by a highly effective breathing exercise that only takes 60 seconds. This helps us to prevent any unnecessary draining of energy, which is important as we need an excess of energy and emotional resilience to hold the space for both ourselves and our children.
Stepping Stones for Christmas
Often our children thrive on predictability, clarity, compassion and lots of love. This article gives an overview of easy to apply strategies and tools to support our children through Christmas.
How to prepare our children including festive days Stepping Stones example– PowerWood https://www.powerwood.org.uk/2022/11/25/preparing-for-christmas/
The ‘Cuddle’ Alarm
Secondly we are going to focus on our children and how we can help them to be able to enjoy the festive days the most. We help them build their own energy level and emotional resilience with the cuddle alarm – if your child is not up for cuddles, just sharing your kind voice might have the same effect.
Supporting Children through Transitions
Most of our children have issues with transitions, whether it is from school to the holidays, or just getting out of the house without a built in habit, so watching my video talk with Abigail can be helpful for getting insights, strategies and tools about how to help our children to transition.
Supporting Children through Transitions – Tips, Tools & Strategies – PowerWood https://www.powerwood.org.uk/2019/07/26/supporting-children-through-transitions-tips-tools-strategies-with-simone-de-hoogh-and-abigail/
The Cool Suitcase
A practical tool, the ‘cool suitcase’ or the ‘cool box’ can be a helpful tool for our children helping them to calm down when overwhelmed, and also when being somewhere other than home.
I take with me … my ‘cool suitcase’ – How to support our child through common transitions – PowerWood https://www.powerwood.org.uk/2022/07/16/i-take-with-me-my-cool-suitcase-how-to-support-our-child-through-common-transitions-self-soothing-suitcase-simple-tool/
Giving Heartfelt Compliments
During this sometimes challenging time, we can help our child raise their energy level by giving them heartfelt compliments that will increase their emotional resilience.
The art of giving heartfelt compliments to ourselves, our children and teens – PowerWood https://www.powerwood.org.uk/2022/06/17/the-art-of-giving-heartfelt-compliments-to-ourselves-our-children-and-teens/
How to respond when difficult topics pop up
Six Steps to support our child or teen (and ourselves) whether it’s about Ukraine or Christmas. https://www.powerwood.org.uk/2022/04/11/what-to-say-about-ukraine-to-our-children-six-steps-to-support-our-child-or-teen-and-ourselves-in-those-challenging-times/
Have a simple creative tutorial ready for the children
Creativity that uses our hands helps us to connect and calm.
You can find some simple creative tutorials, all Christmas inspired, to choose from with your children in the links below:
- Make your Own Simple Paper Christmas Ball-balls – Tutorial –
- Nature Exploration with Air-Dry Clay (Make your own Mushrooms!)
- Make Your Own Origami Robin Christmas Greeting and Mini Kawaii Christmas Tree Decoration
- Overview of all Abigails creative blogs
Dealing with acute overwhelm
And if we feel overwhelmed, Tine’s blogs will support us with loads of empathy for ourselves and others, and by helping us move towards calm with practical strategies and tips.
Dealing with acute overwhelm? Including tips on how to get through – PowerWood Dealing with acute overwhelm, including tips how to get through – PowerWood
Wishing you all a lovely Christmas and after a restorative break an inspiring, happy and healthy 2023!
© 2022 Simone de Hoogh, senior coach and educational and parenting consultant, and founder of PowerWood. All posts by Simone de Hoogh
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PowerWood offers to neurodiverse families understanding, simple tools and strategies that enable us to support ourselves and our children through emotional overwhelm. If you enjoy reading the articles please support PowerWood making all information available to all by becoming a PowerWood Community FreeBee or Friend member. Thank YOU!