Parties, play dates, performances, oh my! 6 tips to help your child navigate a busy schedule without overwhelm, meltdowns, or tantrums

May 13th, 2013
It seems like this time of year there’s a party, play date, or performance almost daily. This can become an overwhelming time of year- especially if your child has a hard time transitioning or is very sensitive to their environment. Here are 6 tips to help your child navigate this busy social time so there are less meltdowns, tantrums, or shutdowns.
  1. Pick and choose- As a parent make decisions that will be in the best interest of your child. You know if you run from a visit with your parents, then off to a theatre show your child is performing in, then to an after party with the cast members, your child may be “spent”, and that’s often when behaviors deteriorate. Limit the number of activities, and model to your child that saying “no, thank you” is perfectly acceptable.
  2. Prepare- Pick out clothes in advance, plan snacks or meals for the day, decide how long you will attend these events and how you (and your parenting partner) will respond if your child wants to stay longer.
  3. Let your child know the plan up front- Be clear on the plans for the day, expectations, the length of the visit, and if there is a concern about your child’s behavior be clear on what will happen if they become upset or act out (and then follow through on what you said you would do). If they easily become overstimulated create a word or signal that you both can use to remind your child to take a break from the activity they are doing. Reward good behavior with something meaningful and simple, such as letting your child stay longer at an activity or choose the story to read at bedtime.
  4. Don’t forget to eat and drink- I know this is so simple, but how easy it is to forget especially when we are so busy and engaged in an activity. Plan for snacks, meals and water breaks so your child’s blood sugar doesn't drop or they don’t become dehydrated, which can lead to meltdowns.
  5. Teach your child how to self-soothe and self-regulate- When your child’s behaviors start to become regressive you know they are about to have a meltdown. Step in and help them learn how to self-calm. Head outside and go for a 5-min walk, smell and look at flowers, name the birds, look for bugs. Use your car as a “relaxation station” in -between traveling to different places. Spray calming scents like lavender or chamomile, have a bag of books, crayons and paper, (no mess) modeling clay, and soft snuggly pillows, and turn on some chill tunes. Teach your child how to take restorative mini breaks throughout the day.
  6. Encourage an art break- Use art to help your child calm and reflect on their day. Get creative, pull out some simple art materials and ask your child to make pictures. Here are some ideas to get you started, feel free to improvise: Ask your child to draw pictures of their favorite thing that happened during the day, ask them to make pictures of what the liked the least or anything that was frustrating, upsetting or annoying, ask them to make a picture of what they are feeling, and what that looks like. If there was a difficult situation, ask your child to make a picture of what they could have done differently to handle it.
Yes, it’s a busy time of the year with so many exciting things to do. Help your child manage the transitions with ease with these tips. If you need more support, we’d love to help you. Learn more about our amazing International Parents and Professionals Community and all the resources, and support you can access 24/7 to help your child be the amazingly awesome kid you know they can be!

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