I had the pleasure of being the featured speaker at a UCLA Bruin Professionals network meeting last week providing parents with unique tools to navigate gatherings at the holidays and any time of year.
Here are 3 takeaways.
* Have a family code word or phrase that your child or teen can use to signal they need your help. They may be too embarrassed to ask for help out loud when feeling overwhelmed or uncomfortable at parties, so give them a way to do so inconspicuously.
My own teens used our family code words when they were at parties where they felt uneasy with the direction things were going. They texted the code words and I showed up at the location to bring them, and any of their friends who wanted to join us, home - no questions asked.
** Give your young child a break to "reboot" every 30 minutes, or so. The noise level at gatherings can get quite loud. These are different sounds than they are used to at school or or on the playground. This noise can deplete a young child's capacity to "party". Taking periodic 5-minute breaks in a quiet area gives your child the opportunity to refill their emotional tanks.
*** Decide how you will be greeting people at events this season. Are kisses and hugs OK or will you give fist bumps and elbow taps? Do you differentiate between greetings to relatives, friends, or acquaintances? Children and teens are more comfortable and more socially sophisticated when they know what the expectations are ahead of time.
Communication and preparation are key to enjoying your kids and enjoying the holidays. i wish you all celebrations that leave you with precious memories.