Managing Expectations at Christmas

At this time of year, there are many changes to routine and expectations as the Christmas holidays begin.

Excitement can often be mistaken for anxiety and vice versa as they share similarities in their emotional qualities. This can make it difficult for children to regulate themselves and, as parents or teachers, you can sometimes see an increase in ‘bad behaviour’.

Whenever a child’s behaviour changes or becomes unacceptable, try and see past the behaviour and consider what is driving the behaviour. Often, because of our own demands, we naturally deal with the surface, because that is what is in front of us.

If you can take a moment to look at what the meaning of the behaviour might be, this may alter your perception and expectations.

For example, a child with low-self esteem may worry that they are undeserving of what often is associated with Christmas; be that a visit from the big red man or the naughty or nice list. Unwittingly the subliminal messages can negatively impact a child’s emotional state and this can show up in their behaviours. The child with low self-esteem may start fretting, become need or clingy, revert to behaviours in keeping with a much younger child or become defensive and angry. These are all self-protective measures that the child is creating in order to prevent feelings that may be too big or too painful for them to handle. Feelings such as disappointment, regret, unworthiness, not feeling valued or exclusion.

If you notice a difference in your child’s behaviour during the festive season, help them by talking through with them how they are feeling, discussing openly any fears they may have and providing suggestions about how they might want to feel instead.

Allowing children to express their feelings in a healthy way, having an adult that is non-judgemental to share their thoughts with is immensely useful in supporting them in their development of EQ – emotional intelligence.

An easy activity to encourage your children to participate in has just a few simple steps and can be done by all the family:

Each day, express or write, 3 things that you are proud of yourself for.

For a child that tends to get angry, this can be times they were calm.

For the child that tends to have a negative view of themselves, these can be things that they achieved or are good at.

For a child that tends to be anxious, this can be things that they were calm and/or confident about.

For a child that tends to be down or depressed, this can be things that made them happy (encourage activities that they participated in rather than external factors such as their friends).

You can do a mixture of all of the above, the key emotional states of calm; confident and happy provide a child with a good foundation from which they can grow their emotional intelligence.

For more information about our workshop or training with us to learn some of our techniques, please get in touch with us on 0333 358 0390 or say