The holidays are magical in so many ways, but as we all know, they can be crazy, hectic, and overwhelming even at the best of times. And that's just from an adult perspective. Thinking about what kids go through during this busy time of year, Esther Sowerby, who has worked in education and childcare roles for 20 years, wrote a post from a child's perspective about the stress of the season through a little one's eyes, and it'll open up your own eyes as an adult and parent.
"Be kind to me this Christmas," Esther's Facebook post begins. "You've probably let me eat more sugar than usual — I'm bound to have higher highs and lower lows . . . I'm out of routine — I can cope better with transitions when I know exactly what's coming next so please explain our plans for the day clearly to me. The anticipation of Christmas can be pretty overwhelming and exhausting. Help me to rest by keeping to my normal bedtimes."
The post goes on to note the stress of holiday travel and asks parents to be flexible, the disappointment that can come over not receiving certain presents ("if there's no way I can have that giant lego set for Christmas, then please tell me well before Christmas morning"), and what it's like for children to notice that even their own parents and other adults are overwhelmed. "I know you want it to be perfect for me so I'll have memories I can cherish forever. But I see you getting stressed, sometimes even before you do. I pick up on it and reflect it like a mirror. Please slow down, notice me, talk to me, play with me. That's what I'll remember."
And most importantly, Esther wrote about how to handle tantrums and kids who lash out over the holidays — these situations are mostly inevitable, but aren't deliberate. "Please don't make me ashamed of my feelings by shouting at me . . . I'm just a little person whose brain deals with stress in different ways to yours. Please try to understand me, from my point of view. And when all else fails, wrap your arms around me and hold me so I feel the strength of your love."
Esther's thoughtful message has been widely shared in the few weeks since it was first posted and serves as a great reminder to all adults who will be spending the holidays with children to give them grace, remember what it was like to be little around this exciting time of year, and most of all, to be aware of how influential your moods and actions can be in the minds of children during the holidays and beyond.