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Preschool Education Articles

Post-Holiday Blahs

Fall and winter are exciting times: school starts, and at least one holiday appears every month until January. Vacations and long week-ends abound. In school children learn the importance of decorating appropriately for each holiday, and their excitement seems to reach a peak in December with celebrations at home, at school, at church, and at every organization to which children can belong. It is difficult to sleep for thinking about future gifts, visits from relatives, exciting foods, television specials, church pageants and school concerts.

In fact, it is not just kids. Most people seem to get caught up in planning and carrying out holiday activities, but children may be more susceptible to rising excitement and expectations. And, like adults, they experience some holiday stress. So it is not unusual that afterward some children crash and burn in the post-holiday blahs.

These blahs may take several forms. Some children seem moody and let down. They may suffer from having expectations that did not match well with reality. Others seem bored and demand amusement. Perhaps these children have gotten used to over stimulation and cannot find ways to busy themselves. Others begin to act more aggressively. It is almost as if they have been trying so hard to be "good" that they have stored up several weeks worth of "bad" behavior and want to let it all out at once.

Few children understand their own after-holiday behavior. They do not plan to be mean and disruptive. It is almost as though they cannot help themselves. Parents can help by not overreacting, and by allowing a little more leeway in their expectations. Almost everyone needs a little time to adjust to the post-holiday change of pace.

Children have spent so much time counting down the days to a specific holiday that they feel there is little left to look forward to. One seven-year-old bemoaned, " Twelve more months before I can have any fun again!" That's sad comment from a child. She may need help to see that there are many family, school, church and other events to plan for and to look forward to. This little girl's grandmother gave her a calendar for Christmas. On New Year's Day her parents sat with her and filled in upcoming events. By the time they had marked her birthday, her brother's birthday, Valentine's Day, school holidays, the church carnival, and the county fair, she was quite excited. It seemed to put the winter holidays in perspective.

The winter holidays are fun and exciting but children may need some help in looking to the future. This reduces the pressure for the winter holidays to be absolutely perfect.

Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC.
Source: Adapted from Ann Mullis. "Because I Said So." North Dakota State University Extension Service.


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