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Seeing the holidays through your toddler's eyes

Your toddler understands more and more of what's going on around her — and is getting better at communicating her thoughts. Although she's still too young to really understand what the holidays are all about, she'll probably love participating in holiday rituals.

Seeing the holidays through your toddler's eyes
Article courtesy of By Dana Dubinsky

It's never too early to start your own family traditions, whether that means driving around the neighborhood to look at all the sparkling lights, lighting Hanukkah candles, reading aloud from a favorite holiday book, or listening to Christmas carols.

For all the joy, the holiday season can also present some special challenges for your toddler. Keeping her developmental stage and temperament in mind can help you both avoid problems and handle them with aplomb when they occur. A few troubleshooting tips you might find helpful:

Let her be leery. If you plan on taking your child to see Santa Claus, spend some time explaining who Santa is (an 18-month-old will understand better than a 1-year-old), and familiarize your child with his appearance by looking at pictures in books. Don't force her to sit for a picture with Santa if she doesn't want to — there will be plenty of time for Santa Claus in the years ahead.

Remember: 'Tis the season for tantrums. From 12 to 18 months, your child will be testing you at every turn. Say "No" when she reaches for the holiday punch bowl, for example, and she'll pause and look at your face — maybe even shake her head "No" in return — but she'll also test your responses to her behavior by doing it again.

Your child's ability to understand what's going on around her outpaces her ability to communicate, resulting in frustration and meltdowns when you don't respond to her needs.This may be a good year to celebrate at your house, where you'll have more control over the environment.

Take her along on strolls and shopping expeditions whenever you can move at a leisurely pace, but consider leaving her with your partner or a caregiver while you do your tantrum-free (and much more efficient) holiday errands.

Keep tabs on the stimulation. It's easy to get caught up in holiday merrymaking and forget that too many new faces, sights, and sounds can overstimulate even the most sociable toddler. Pay attention to your child's cues: Put her down for a nap or bed when you see the telltale signs of sleepiness (like ear-pulling, eye-rubbing, and crankiness). If your toddler starts getting too wound up or upset, she probably needs some downtime — take her into a quiet room and read a book, or play quietly until the clouds pass.

Heed her schedule. Disrupting a child's schedule causes many of the problems that arise during the holidays. Whenever possible, try to stick to your toddler's usual sleeping and waking times — better to find a room where she can take a nap than to spend the rest of the day with a child who is overtired.

Article courtesy of By Dana Dubinsky

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