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How to avoid sensory overload in children during the holidays

All the things we love about the holiday season like lights, events, visitors, and travel can also spark sensory overload in children. In this episode of Coffee with Consultants, Social-Emotional Consultants at The Florida Center’s Starfish Academy, Stephanie, and Michele,  discuss how parents can alleviate stress by helping children deal with big feelings by preparing for activities and lack of routine during the holidays.

Children, especially those with delays and disabilities, thrive in a structured environment. While they most likely look forward to the fun the holidays bring, dealing with bright lights, noisy environments and hectic schedules can often be overwhelming. Pair that with extra sugar intake, house guests, and an influx of events and you have a ticking time bomb for an atomic meltdown.

“I always say, what goes up must come down, and sometimes that can be hard to deal with,” said Stephanie.

Stephanie said that parents should anticipate big feelings and keep their cool during the holidays, which in turn, can reduce stress for everyone. She suggests carving out a quiet time during the day when parents and children can be present together and practice quiet activities such as mindfulness in order to avoid sensory overload for children during the holidays.

Michele said that we should be realistic with our expectations when it comes to activities such as a long church or holiday services. The attention span of a young child is very different from that of an adult, which means packing quiet activities and snacks could help them stay focused.

Parents should also gauge when to share information about attended holiday events with children, sometimes waiting until a day before the event takes place to tell them about it.

“Plans change, people get sick and young children don’t understand time as we do,” she said.

Watch the video for more great tips on avoiding meltdowns during the holiday season!

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