Ah, the holidays: the most wonderful, chaotic time of the year! I think for most families, the last month of the year is a delicate dance between the beautiful and the crazy- the joy of seeing family mixed with the stress of, well, seeing family!
For families with kids from hard places, there’s often more than just coffee that’s brewing at social gatherings and dinners. Our kids from hard places may be uniquely triggered this time of year and need our help to manage their feelings and behaviors.
We want to offer some helpful strategies over the coming days to help your holidays sail more smoothly. These can be helpful for you, as well!
Be intentional about asking your child how they’re feeling. This is teaching them to be mindful. At our house, we like to avoid dysregulation whenever possible, so we use the colors red, blue, and green to quickly check in with our kids (and ourselves).
Red is running hot- this might indicate anger, frustration, or an excess supply of energy. The child that’s “red” is headed for an explosion, and your intervention is needed right away. Try using a calming strategy with them, such as deep breathes, stretches, trying to push the wall over, or applying pressure to a pressure point. Ask them if they need a tight hug or some other form of deep tissue stimulation, like a firm back or arm rub. These can help supply the brain with the sensory input that it's trying (and failing) to achieve through dysregulated behaviors. We also carry a small roll-on bottle of lavender essential oil to help bring calm to the dysregulated child. If needed, give them a 5 minute "time in" with you. Instead of pushing them away through a "time out," we're pulling them close and helping them manage their behavior. This is 5 minutes for you to model good coping strategies and help them see what well-regulated behavior looks like.
Blue is down- it could be from feeling discouraged, depressed, overwhelmed, or just being tired. When our kids self-report that they’re on blue, we often ask things like, “Does my child need a snack? Or “Are they a bit dehydrated?” Some research has suggested that up to 50% of children are chronically dehydrated.
Even mild dehydration prevents the brain from working properly. Almonds or a cheese stick and fresh water are a great combo to give sustained energy and rehydrate your child (or you!)!
Salty or sour foods and strong, stimulating smells are also helpful. Try applying an alerting essential oil like rosemary or peppermint to help refresh
them. Eating a dill pickle spear or sucking on a peppermint can also help bring them out of the blue. A trampoline may very well be God’s greatest gift to the blue zone!
Green is well-regulated and in control of oneself. Sometimes “green” can feel like chasing a unicorn- something mythical and magical that you've heard about, but never seen! However, as we help our kids recognize their dysregulation and assist them in addressing the underlying causes, we’ll begin to see way more time spent in the green zone. And that’s good any time of the year!
What strategies work to help your children regulate?