We all know that the Holidays can be a crazy time.  It can be even more so if you have children with special needs, regardless if it’s ADHD or a physical disability.  Here are some helpful tips that might ensure this holiday season is a bit easier for your child/children, your family, your friends, and you.


  1. Start the season with Soul Searching:

    As you prepare to face the holidays, especially if you are planning on spending the time with your extended family, you can always ask what might be uncomfortable for them.  Moreover, how can you, with their help, make the situation/setting more comfortable for everyone. However, be warned, you must be prepared to hear a whole variety of input.  Some of it might not be easy to hear as a parent.


  1. What matters, keep it simple:

    If you and your family are traveling, you need to also ask yourself, “What will be accomplished with this holiday visit?” Try to create a couple of simple concrete goals and stick to them.  If there is a family tradition you feel is important to partake in, then do it. If your goal is to visit with the grandparents, try not to be sidetracked by stopping to see everyone in the family. This will help reduce stress to both you and your children. It also helps to establish your goals with your family members prior to the visit so everyone is on the same page and there’s no hurt feelings.


  1. Help is OK:

    Remember that if you are spending the holidays with people you love and care about, allow them to help you. They will want to be helpful and make sure you and your child/children have a good experience.  Even if your child’s disability is a handful, your extended family or friends will still want to be there for you.  However, don’t expect them to eagerly want to assist with all the gritty details either.  They will want to be helpful, but they are not used to the specific needs of your child/children so be patient with your family as well. Tell them what to expect and be honest. Also, tell them what works, and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to say, for example, “My child may start making very loud noises or may start drooling. Here’s how we handle this. Will you be able to help us if this happens?”


  1. Be the peacemaker:

    First, explain to your child/children what will be happening.  Feel free to go into detail about the trip, the visit, and when you are leaving.  Help your child/children feel prepared for the visit by reminding them multiple times of the visit and what to expect.  On the same note, try not to feel defensive when you are around family.  Sometimes certain behaviors that appear “bratty” might be in fact part of the disability.  It’s important that your family understands this. For example: “He’s sensitive to bright lights, and I think the lights at the store were just too bright for him. That’s why he covered his eyes and cried.”


I hope some of these ideas help you and your family. Have a very happy holiday season!


Author: Kelly Dale, School Psychologist




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