Peace at Home for the Holidays

Copyright © Tina Feigal 2011

Here are some helpful tips for maintaining peace, specifically in your home or classroom, during the holidays.

1. Engage the children in a discussion about craziness at holiday time (guess when I am going to say?) in advance. Remind them that it’s so much nicer to enjoy the holidays when there are fewer upsets, than to have to deal with melt-downs on top of all the visits and excitement.2. Ask for the young kids’ plan for staying calm when you arrive at the relatives, or they come to your house. They’ll likely have some great ideas, but if not, you can offer some such as: we’ll think hard about walking indoors instead of running, we’ll work at using inside voices, and we’ll use our words instead of our hands or feet to let people know we want something.

3. For pre-teens and teens, some advanced conversation about ways they will help with the festivities will make it easier for them to cooperate when the time comes. If you meet with resistance, don’t back down. Keep talking until you can arrive at a mutually agreeable plan for using their talents when company comes or when there’s a special event in your classroom.

4. At home, ban computer games for certain times, such as when Grandma and Grandpa are here. I have heard many complaints from grandparents that their grandchildren are so intent on the games that they hardly get to spend any time with them. If this is decided on in advance, it’s easier for kids to shut games down when the grands arrive. Rehearse this if necessary, and switch roles as you practice, to make it fun for the kids.

5. Be sure to talk to your kids about what they will give for the holidays, and facilitate their efforts to create gifts.

6. Take time to talk to kids about what the holidays mean to you. If you only rush around feeling stressed and cranky, they may come to the conclusion that holidays are no fun, and will miss the significance of observing certain days. Talking about the true meaning of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc., anchors children into their own cultural traditions.

7. Avoid falling prey to advertisers’ spell on your children. Decide in advance how much you will spend, and stick with it. Children rarely remember what they received for the holidays, but they really remember how they felt. Emphasize building tradition with food, decorations, religious services (if it’s your practice) and people, rather than huge numbers of gifts.

8. If you have young children, plan to spend a limited amount of time at celebrations. Overtired kids cannot behave well, so be sure your host knows that you will only stay until 7 or 8. Just as with adults, if kids get their rest, the visit will be a lot more pleasant.

9. Take care of yourself. Sometimes relatives are hard to be around. When you add excited children to the mix, the stress can become overwhelming. Take little breaks, in the bathroom if you have to, to refresh your mind. Plan the relaxing bath you’ll take when you get home.

10. From National Public Radio: If someone says something at the dinner table that you find offensive (about your child, particularly), simply reply, “I know you couldn’t have meant that” or “I can’t believe you said that,” and change the subject.

For in-person support, call 651-453-0123 for coaching.


Tina Feigal, M.S., Ed. is a former school psychologist and mother of three wonderful sons. Tina’s passion is bringing peace to homes and schools, by helping adults to bring out the best in challenging children with Present Moment Parenting and Teaching: specific, effective techniques featuring the Nurtured Heart Approach. Since 2000, she has operated her business, the Center for the Challenging Child, LLC, as a coach and trainer, helping adults apply the techniques in her books “The Pocket Coach for Parents” and “The Pocket Teacher Coach.” Tina has been featured as the Minneapolis Star Tribune and KARE 11 Extra’s “Supernanny”.


MACMH is an education and advocacy group whose mission is to enhance the quality of life for children with mental health disorders and their families. MACMH does not render medical, legal, technical, or therapeutic advice or services and assumes no liability for errors or the ways in which this information is used.

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