Finding Calm in the Chaos

Fall is my favorite time of the year! The weather gets cooler, festivities are all around, and Thanksgiving brings family and friends together. While family gatherings can be fun, they can also be overwhelming for children who get easily overstimulated. This could include reactions to change in routine, loudness, and/or the expectation of conversations with unfamiliar listeners. Here are a few tips to help your child during those unexpected situations: 

Tips for Routine Changes:

  • Make a visual schedule or use a calendar for your child, when the holidays come closer, in order to prepare for various events (Ex: Grandma and Grandpa come on Nov. 20th, Thanksgiving is on November 24th). You can do a fun countdown with your child to encourage anticipation for incoming visitors.
  • Give your child permission to leave a situation if overstimulation occurs. Even adults need a break, so if your child needs time alone for a while in a safe space, it’s okay.
  • Make clear boundaries with family members, so they are aware of expectations regarding your child. Grandmas and Grandpas, Aunts and Uncles love being with their littles, but may forget that your child doesn’t like to be hugged or asked a lot of questions up front.

Tips for Conversation with unfamiliar family members: 

  • Practice using a conversation map prior to visitors arriving where you write down a few bullet points to utilize during conversation. This is a great strategy to use if your child gets anxiety when talking with others. It can be simple and geared towards your child’s interests:
    • Hi, Aunt Sally. How are you?
    • I’m fine, how are you?
    • I’m great. How was your trip? Do you want to see my toys?
    • It was long, but good. Oh sure, let’s go play!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Written by: Caitlin Davis, SLPA

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