As children look forward to the Christmas holidays – including a break from school – keeping to a schedule is important to preventing behavior issues and maintaining healthy habits.
Experts at Ascension Via Christi say children are better able to practice self-control when the environment around them is structured.
“Many parents complain that their children are hyperactive and short-tempered over the Christmas holidays,” Dr. Amy Seery, Via Christi pediatrician, says “While the excitement of gifts and family gatherings contribute to this, part of this family stress can be lowered by aiming to stick to your kids’ schedule, even when school is out.”
Dr. Seery recommend the following tips for maintaining your kids’ schedule over the holiday season:
- Get sleep – Children fall asleep more easily and cooperate better when bedtime and naptime come on a regular schedule. Don’t encourage sleeping in too much during winter break, as that will make readjusting to the school schedule more difficult.
- Eat well – Holidays come with their share of overeating, but this is also an opportunity to set an example for children about how to make healthy choices in the face of unhealthy options.
- Plan activities – To keep little ones from becoming restless, keep their minds and bodies engaged with activities. Choose a specific time each day, and plan an outdoor activity to get them active. Break up time inside with a board game, craft or puzzle.
- Limit screen time to two hours a day – Screen time may include watching TV on any device, listening to music, playing on a computer or tablet, or playing video games. Setting up parental controls can help cut down on a child’s screen time.
- Teach them about service and giving – “The holiday time is also a good time to teach children the joy of giving and service. It may not feel as efficient but have your children help you wrap presents, make holiday meals, deliver donations and more. They will appreciate being included and learning these activities and more from you," Dr. Seery says.
If you would like to find a pediatrician or learn more about pediatric care, visit www.viachristi.org/pediatrics.