Handling Holiday Stress The Smart(s) Way
What’s the current stress level in your home? Sometimes, during the Christmas season, which is supposed to be all about peace, joy, and love, the opposites reign.
As families gather and excitement grows for many reasons, children can misbehave. When they do, think about how their intelligences may be relevant. We don’t want to react in such strong and negative ways that any smarts are paralyzed. So, let’s handle these situations well:
- People-smart children may be most likely to follow any of our negative examples. Respectfully, what have you been modeling? (Ouch!) If you’ve thrown your version of a temper tantrum when frustrated, don’t be surprised when your children do the same. They can accurately interpret body language, tone of voice, and the looks you give store clerks, family members, and others. If they ask you if you’re frustrated, don’t lie and say you’re not if you are. That just makes the situation worse. Answer, “Yes,” and then make it a teachable moment if you didn’t handle your frustrations with the maturity you could have.
- Logic-smart children may also be very sensitive to what they observe. They may be thinking, “Daddy shouldn’t be yelling at mommy like that” and “Mommy sure is upset that clerk is taking a long time, but I don’t think it’s her fault. Can’t mommy see that?” These reactions and their accompanying feelings may increase these children’s frustrations, anger, and sullenness as they mull things over. All of this can result in them misbehaving.
- Self-smart kids can become very stressed when they don’t get enough time alone and enough quiet. If you have a busy and loud home this season, that may contribute uniquely to these children’s outbursts. We could implement a 15-30 minute period of silence and solitude in the middle of the day or right before dinner. It won’t hurt anyone, but it will especially help these children.
- Word-smart kids love to talk and will have much to share at this time of year. If they don’t have time with us, they’ll be frustrated. And, if relatives don’t seem interested in their stories, they can get angry and confused. Also, if these children get many of their esteem needs met through academics, being on vacation from school can create an awkward vacuum for them. They’re not sure who they are away from school. (This can also be true for logic-smart kids.)
- Picture-smart children can become overstimulated by all their eyes see. They’ll love looking at Christmas lights, all the trees and decorations at the mall, and the nativities set up in your church. Just remember their joy can cause exuberance. Without self-control, this can cause them to get into trouble. We don’t want to paralyze this smart or ruin the event by over-reacting.
- In much the same way, Music-smart kids can be overstimulated by all the music playing everywhere this time of year. Enjoy it with them and help them be as self-controlled as possible.
- Body-smart children think and react with movement and touch so they’ll want to be moving freely and exploring new things with their hands. How many times have you already asked them to not touch the wrapped packages, tree branches, Grandma’s candle on the table, and so much more? Let them touch them a few times under your supervision and they may get it out of their system. Some will be satisfied.
Remind your children that some things are challenging for them because they’re smart, not because they’re bad kids. Oh, read that sentence again please. 🙂 One more time. 🙂