Parents don’t have to forget about the magic of the holidays in order to ensure things run smoothly for children with mood disorders; here’s how:
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Let kids participate
All children want to feel included and like they are able to help out. For some kids with mood disorders, this feeling of acceptance can be amplified. Fortunately, it’s easy to find tasks at this time of year: helping to trim the tree, wrapping presents or making name tags for the dinner table. To make this time even more special, set a new tradition each year such as letting your child decorate the cookies with sparkles or helping with Christmas cards.
Make new traditions
As parents we know that we should teach children that receiving gifts should not be the focus of the holiday season – or any season. And we should demonstrate that giving presents can be as rewarding as getting them. But as adults when we think back to this special season as children it’s the memories and traditions that mean the most, so pick something new each year: making gifts for others, watching a favorite movie, or playing charades that you can all do as a family.
Granted, the holiday season is a special time: parties to attend, big meals to prepare, treats to eat; but it’s very important to remember routine for children with bipolar disorder. As parents we need to ensure they stick to their regular bedtime, as sleep is vital to keep them in balance. It may be more challenging to get kids to wind down for bed during this festive time, so try and make that special too. Maybe get them washed up early and into pajamas to watch a special holiday movie to wind down.
Let them be kids
During the holidays, there are parties to attend and lengthy services to sit still through. There are irritating formal clothes to wear, loud groups of people and strangers trying to embrace them at every turn. It can be an extremely stressful time for children with mood disorders and any one of these is enough to trigger a meltdown. Take all of this into consideration when you’re planning activities and adjust your expectations accordingly so everyone has fun!
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