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Avoiding Holiday Stress during Thanksgiving

The holidays are upon us and parents know all too well that these can be stressful times, especial for children with special needs. You have the added challenge of celebrating during a pandemic and keeping your family safe while dealing with extra challenges that can be overwhelming. CCSN Mentors understand that routine disruptions, food-centric concerns, and the possibility of additional family members can contribute to a potential meltdown or outburst. In addition to the services we provide, there are a few things you can do at home to make sure everyone enjoys the day.

Before confirming any dinner plans, think about your child’s needs before making commitments. If your child can handle a couple of hours (versus a whole day/afternoon) of family time, figure out what time works best and let your family know. While your child may do well with your family or in your home, they may not feel as comfortable outside of this situation. You can always pack up and leave if any situation becomes unpleasant. Keep in mind the holidays may feel chaotic or very busy, but they are meant for creating new memories with loved ones.

As a family member or friend, take a moment to connect with the child and help them feel included. Children can get overstimulated depending on the amount of activities around them and may express themselves differently than they may on other days. Children may become withdrawn or quiet during this time or become overly excited when trying to communicate. Be patient and actively listen. Every child is experiencing the day in their own, unique way. CCSN offers Family Support Services to support you as you prepare for this celebration so that your child and your family can enjoy your day, no matter how you celebrate.

This is a great opportunity to acknowledge all the work you and your child have done to make it to the end of a very tumultuous year. With that in mind, try to be empathetic towards your child and know that they have also had a hard year. It’s okay if your child likes to stick to their routine, maybe hates to try new foods or only wants to eat biscuits during Thanksgiving dinner. On a day like Thanksgiving, that revolves around food and family, children with particular eating habits it may present a different challenge. Be thankful and accepting of your child and make sure they feel loved.

Remember you can ask for help when you need it. If you know your child won’t be able to stay for all the church service, or you need to tend to other family members, you can ask for respite care through CCSN. We can help give your child a break from the holiday and give you some time to recharge your batteries. Overall, Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year to spend time with people you love. If that means shorter visits or planning a separate menu for your child that involves chicken nuggets or mac and cheese, it’s a small price to pay to connect (or reconnect) with what makes you grateful for your child.