How to Avoid Holiday Meltdowns

Big holiday get‐togethers can be a bit of a chore. Chore or not, they are often unavoidable, so Dr. Thomas Phelan offers parents advice in minimizing children’s holiday meltdowns.

1 – Try to keep the kids on their regular sleeping and eating schedules. For example, if your children usually eat lunch at noon, feed them something then—even if a meal with company isn’t until 2 or 3 p.m.
2 – Keep your discipline consistent. Dr. Phelan’s 1-2-3‐Magic discipline program for misbehavior involves two warnings followed by a time‐out or rest period if the warnings don’t do the trick. One of the things people have to realize is you probably can’t avoid all meltdowns, so there’s nothing wrong with a time-out or rest period (yes, even in front of family). It can be just a 5‐ or 10‐minute break, calmly announced. It doesn’t have to be a horribly punitive thing.

3 – Don’t get into silly conversations with kids, just give the warnings and let the consequence do the work. The key to it is the “No-Talking, No-Emotion” rule in the 1-2-3 Magic program. If parents start talking about what the child is doing and how annoying it is, the focus is taken off what the child is supposed to do, which is behaving. And you’ve only irritated the youngster with your mini‐lectures.

The counting system works well with children from about ages 2 to 12 but Dr. Phelan admits that “It’s harder with an audience. When others are around, many parents become discipline wimps.” And children pick up on their parents’ fear of embarrassment. “When the embarrassment factor is part of the equation, everything gets twice as hard. We all want to look like the perfect parents, so we may do what we think looks good (talk more) instead of what is effective (simply counting).”

If children complain about their parents disciplining them in front of relatives and family friends, Dr. Phelan suggests this response: “If you don’t want to be embarrassed, you can behave.”

The holidays are here, and the time is not always pleasant, but you can be ready!!!

1-2-3 Magic Newsletter by Dr. Thomas Phelan © 2011
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