Christmas is but a week away, and if your kids are going a little off the deep end while waiting for the Jolly Old Elf himself — or if you’re dreading the long car or plane ride to Grandma’s — child expert Deborah Tillman, star of Lifetime’s America’s Supernanny: Family Lockdown, offers these words of advice.
How to survive car trips/flights with young children
Remember that preparation is the key:
• Stories on audiotapes are a terrific way to pass the time and educate at the same time.
• Car games like “I Spy” are fun for children.
• Allow time to stop at local playgrounds so that kids can run around and burn off energy
• Bring several healthy snacks and treats
• Change the kid’s seating arrangements to minimize conflicts.
How to discipline around relatives
• Talk to the children in advance so that they know what your expectations are in terms of behavior. Let them know that you are expecting them to do their best to behave and that you believe they can.
• Remain the same – Children need to understand that the same “mommy” and “daddy” that would discipline them in the comfort of their own home is the same “mommy” and “daddy” that will discipline in front of relatives. That way, they do not get the impression that you will change in front of the family.
• Reward positive behavior – Children should always be praised and encouraged for exhibiting great behavior. The more children realize that they are doing something correctly; the better they feel about themselves and want to continue that behavior.
Dealing with kids that like to fight and argue
Negative behavior does not just begin during the holidays.
• Set limits and guidelines for children – if kids are arguing over a video game, parents should clearly set the rules and boundaries for sharing. Talking through conflicts often lessens conflicts.
• Give them rules in advance so that they know what is expected.
• Enforce age appropriate consequences for negative behavior:
Ages 2-8 — Calm-down corner
Ages 9-13 — Lose what you like
Ages 16-18 — Lose what you like and positive punishment – write a 300-word essay about why you are too smart to have done what you did. It forces children to think about their choices next time in advance.
The consequences must be the same as when the child misbehaves at home. If you are at Grandma’s house, you can arrange in advance for a private room for calm-down corner.
Keeping the peace during the holiday — and after
• Talk together – Turn off the technology and tune into the children. Sharing time, space and feelings is important during the holiday season.
• “How Well Do I Know My Family?” is a game the entire family can play. Each person guesses a family member’s favorite color, favorite food, sport, television show, movie, singer, etc. — and the one who gets the most answers right gets to skip a chore.
• Work together – involve children by keeping them busy and allowing them to help plan and prepare for holiday festivities. When children take part in the decision-making, decorations and food prep, they gain a sense of empowerment and a sense of confidence that helps them stay accountable even toward their behavior.
• Play together – board games are a wonderful way to get the entire family together, and take a break from the holiday rush.
* Make holiday arts and crafts together
• Give together – Remember the reason for the season. This is a great time to start the family “food drive” and donate items to a local shelter.
America’s Supernanny: Family Lockdown returns Jan. 8 at 10/9CT on Lifetime.