Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tips for Keeping the Holidays Merry

(This week we have a guest author. The comments below were penned by a wonderful member of our Baby Signs staff, Bonita Broughton, as an article for one of our newsletters. Great advice worth sharing.)

A normal part of holiday activities for families includes visiting with friends and family. Many of these visitors are ones seldom seen by us throughout the year. Adults are often thrilled to see these faces and take joy in the experience. Children, however, can respond in a very different manner. For children, this experience can cause stress. They find themselves in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar faces and unfamiliar expectations. Helping your child prepare for holiday gatherings can help ward off some of the frustration that can arise for both parent and child.

Ideas for making gatherings successful:

Photo Time: Take some time prior to the gathering to look through old photos of the people you will be seeing. Try to find pictures which include the child as well. If your child uses signs for specific family members, use the signs to help make the connection between the person and the photo.

The Hand-off: Enthusiastic family members will be excited to see your little one and may immediately reach to take your child. Some children are fine with this and just need you to stay close until they are passed back. Other children will not have such a favorable response. Be prepared to take the lead by saying something like, "He takes a while to warm up, but he really likes for you to give a high-five." If your little one is signing, then you can encourage him with simple signs like GOOD JOB or I LOVE YOU. Don't forget to remind your child of the pictures you looked at and use the sign if appropriate.

It is moving time: One concern can be decorations placed down low. Even for the most well-behaved child, twinkling lights and shiny objects can be a strong temptation! Gently ask the host if you can move the item to a higher location. This can prevent you, your child, and the host a lot of unneeded stress. If it is not something that can be moved, use signs LIKE GENTLE, WAIT, STOP, and THANK YOU to help guide the child's behavior.

It’s in the Bag: With all the hustle and bustle of the season parents often forget to bring items to keep the little one busy. Simple toys, puzzles, and books can give the child a familiar item for comfort and provide some much needed distraction. Bringing a book with easy to sign words can also offer the child a chance to share her signing success with family members and help to get new family members onboard with your signing efforts.

Keep these tips from Bonita in mind as you look enjoy your holiday celebrations and the chance of adding happy memories to your scrapbook will definitely increase.

Happy Signing (and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook)!

Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, UC Davis
Co-Founder, The Baby Signs® Program

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