It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and toddlers are sure to notice all the changes around. Whether you celebrate Christmas or just enjoy the spirit of it, here are some ways to make your holiday season toddler friendly.
- Have a discussion with other adults in the family about what traditions and values are important to you and which ones you want to pass on – What do you want to tell you children about Santa? What do you want to tell the about the elf on the shelf? Think about these from a place of respect for the child and respect for others who follow these traditions. Don’t go into long drawn explanations because toddlers aren’t ready for them. Explain things in a sentence or two and leave it at that. It is always okay to tell your child that some people choose to believe in it, and some don’t.
- Toddlers thrive on routine and if yours is going to change around this season – prepare them for the changes. Expect some amount of resistance and tantrums. While adults love the break from monotony that festivals bring, some toddlers see it as their world being turned upside down. If you are decorating, do it when your child is around rather than after they have gone to bed – this way they can see the changes happening and are more likely to accept them.
- If you are having a Christmas tree – remember that your toddler is going to want to touch everything. While adults enjoy the tree by decorating it and then sitting back to look at it, the toddler’s need is to experience the tree sensorially. Don’t hang breakable ornaments that you are likely to be heartbroken about if your toddler decides to explore them. Another idea is to have a little ‘toddler’ tree with a bunch of ornaments in a basket on the floor next to it – this is the tree where your toddler can put on and take off ornaments as much as they want. Either keep the bigger tree out of bounds or redirect them to their little tree every time you see them reach for the big one.
- Christmas is as good a time as any to do some activities and crafts with your toddlers. Keep them developmentally appropriate though and don’t expect outcomes like the ones on social media. Arts and crafts with toddlers are more about the process than the product – while you might want them to paint inside the star, they probably just want to explore the medium of paint, touch it with their hands and so forth. Observe and evaluate if your toddler’s skills match the activities and crafts you plan for them.
- It truly is a wonderful time of the year to introduce Christmas music and songs to your toddlers. Put on some music and move to it or just sit down with family and listen to the more melodious tracks. Try to only put on audio as the video might distract your child from truly enjoying the music. You can singalong to Christmas songs or even take your toddler to watch others sing.
- No festival is complete without food, of course. Christmas is a great time to bake with toddlers – again, the key is to keep things simple and lower your expectations. Pick a recipe with a few ingredients and steps. Pre-measure and set out the ingredients on the tray. Ask your toddler to dump in all the ingredients into the mixing bowl and let them also help with whisking or combining the ingredients together. Expect some mess and use it as an opportunity to show your toddler how to clean. You can do the final mixing and put the dish into the oven. Once you take it out and it cools (keep it away from your toddler’s reach during this time), you can again involve you toddler in serving the baked goods.
Have a lovely season and a Happy New Year!