5 Tips for Maintaining Order During the Holiday Season

Updated: Apr 17, 2019


Children from hard places and children with sensory processing disorder thrive in predictable routines and schedules. When the “most wonderful time of the year” approaches, often these routines are disrupted. A large, bustling store or a gregarious family gathering can lead to sensory overload, meltdowns, and lingering disruptive behavior.


By educating yourself and taking some simple precautions, parents can avoid or minimize these meltdowns during the holiday season. Here are five tips to help you navigate Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.


1. View your children through compassion-colored glasses.

The holiday season can bring about profound sadness for children who are away from their family of origin. What feels like a joyous family get together to you, may highlight your child’s loss. In addition, boisterous gatherings, homes full of people, the smells of different foods, and other aspects of the holidays can be overwhelming to a child. Choose to see your child’s behaviors not as willful disobedience but as a biological response to the environment.

Remember that “it is not you against this child. It is you and this child against this child’s history. It is not a personal attack on you.” Dr. Karyn Purvis

2. An ounce of prevention…

Take notes in the weeks and months leading up to the holiday season about what seems to trigger your child’s meltdowns. Then, be prepared in situations that are similar to when you’ve noticed problem behavior in the past. Pack a sensory travel kit (understood.org has some great ideas for this!) full of calming activities such as bubbles, coloring books and crayons, and fidget toys. Don’t forget to have snacks and water handy, and give them out freely. Empower your child before the situation gets dire and needs crisis intervention.