Helping Kids Self-Regulate During the Holidays

School break, seeing family we might only see once a year, staying up late, presents, travel, holiday events, new experiences, and did I say… presents!

That is a lot of energy and emotion to manage.

And kids are still in the process of learning self-regulation skills

The holiday season can lead to more meltdowns, anxiety, power struggles, and bouncing-off-the-walls high energy.

“It (self-regulation) is a set of skills that enables children, as they mature, to direct their own behavior towards a goal, despite the unpredictability of the world and our own emotions.” – Child Mind Institute

So, what are some ways we can help kids self-regulate during the holidays?

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When Kids Need to Have the Last Word

Recently I’ve been having conversations with kids about the need to have THE LAST WORD in a discussion.

And honestly, they don’t like Last Word-itis any more than we do.

They simply get stuck in the back and forth.

It feels SO important to get that last word in as a way of proving that the other person hasn’t won.

Kids shared that NOT getting the last word feels like…

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Letting Go Of Perfectionism

“Put a mark next to your name, Kim.”


It was 5th grade and I was out of my seat using the pencil sharpener attached to the wall. (It was the 80’s, ya’ll.)

Our classroom behavior management system consisted of a large piece of paper hung on the wall listing all of our names. If someone got in trouble, they had to walk over to that paper and draw a dot next to their name.

When I heard my name called, I was horrified, so much so that I remember this incident 38 years later. I had no idea I wasn’t supposed to be out of my seat at that time. It was a simple mistake, an oops. It could’ve been no big deal, but it wasn’t.

I worked very hard to avoid making mistakes. I spent my school days performing, perfecting, and pleasing to avoid being ostracized, judged, or negatively in the spotlight.

I was sensitive to my teacher’s correction, to feeling stupid because I messed up, and to being called out in front of my classmates. I felt deeply ashamed.

In that moment, Perfectionism grabbed my hand and squeezed even tighter than before, “I’ll protect you from this yucky feeling. Just avoid everything I warn you about and this will never happen to you again.”

What I didn’t know then that I do know now is Perfectionism lies.

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