SENG

A Recipe for a Peaceful Holiday Season

A Recipe for a Peaceful Holiday Season

Author: Vidisha Patel
Citation: First published in the SENGVine, November 2011

Happy Holidays!

Fall usually means cooler weather, sweatshirts, jackets, crisp apples, and changing colors in nature. Fall also brings on the holiday season and, with it, the rush of trying to get everything done in time to celebrate the holidays.

Holidays are meant to be fun celebrations, bringing together family and friends. Yet, many people find this time of year to be stressful and anxiety provoking: families coming together for Thanksgiving, gifts to be purchased that are suitable and still affordable in a difficult economic climate, homework to be completed, semester exams, and holiday recitals and events. All together, that sounds extremely overwhelming. Add to that the sensitivities of a gifted individual, mixed in with some perfectionism and a dash of organizational challenges, and you have a recipe for disaster!

Gifted children tend to feel the “bumps along the road” more easily and more deeply than the average person. Their emotional shock absorbers seem to be just a bit looser. That does not mean that the holiday celebrations are something to avoid or fear. With a little bit of understanding and planning, holiday celebrations can fun, relaxed, and filled with the meaning that was originally intended, without throwing everyone in a tailspin.

Sleep is one of the first things to go when families are on holiday. Everyone is having so much fun that the kids stay up later and wake up later than usual. While this may seem to be fun initially, it throws off the body clock, and you may see more tantrums and stubborn behavior. Consider delaying the bedtime, but try to keep it consistent each day of the holidays. Remember that just because children are on vacation, does not mean that they do not need sleep. In fact, they need more time to recuperate from all the extra stimulation from family, activities, and food.

Food is another area that can be challenging. Many holiday traditions are centered around food. Eating excessive sugar can be a challenge around Halloween and even some of the other fall holidays. Without denying the treats, limit how much your children consume at any given time. Eating differently from what their bodies are used to may result in a crankier child, hyperactivity, or tantrums.

Technology is another area where parents tend to loosen the strings. Children who enjoy playing video games, and watching television and movies are sometimes given “free rein” on vacation. These tools actually overstimulate the brain and can pose difficulty with sleep as well as other behavioral issues. Moderation is always best. Be mindful of how much screen time your kids are enjoying and try to balance it with time outdoors and socializing with others.

Most of all, remember your original intentions for the holidays. Keep it simple and fun, and enjoy the time with your family and friends. I hope you have a peaceful and healthy holiday season.

 

Dr. Vidisha Patel has a doctorate of Education in Counseling Psychology and practices as a therapist in Sarasota, Florida, where much of her work is with gifted children and their families, with a focus on stress and anxiety. She is licensed to teach stress management techniques. Dr. Patel is active in her local community and regularly speaks at conferences, schools, and parenting groups throughout the community and the state. As a consultant for Florida State University she trains primary caregivers on infant mental health. Dr. Patel holds an MBA from Columbia University and worked in finance on Wall Street and overseas before obtaining her doctorate in psychology. Dr. Patel is the mother of two gifted children.