We’re helping our little Thanksgiving turkeys have a peaceful holiday and be on their best behavior. Rhonda Hauser, M.A. with A Leap of Action shared tips to help us not just survive, but thrive this holiday. Thanksgiving can be an exciting yet chaotic time for families and it is often marked by gathering with extended family and friends. Nothing can disrupt young children’s typical behavior more than being surrounded by doting family members or being whisked off to spend the day at someone else’s home. Here are some helpful hints for surviving and thriving during the Thanksgiving celebration.
Greeting family members/friends who want a hug and kiss from your young child
Most children become reluctant and shy when they are made to hug and kiss a relative or friend of the family. Here are two ideas to keep everyone’s spirits and moods intact and to avoid any unnecessary hurt feelings.
- In advance have the children decorate small round tokens with a picture, stickers (lips, happy face, etc) or even make a lipstick kiss on the circle. When the family member asks for a hug or kiss, the child can give them the token of affection with out actually having to embrace the adult. This maintains the connection but doesn’t make the child uncomfortable.
- Have a bag of Hershey’s chocolate hugs and kisses on hand so that at the end of the day during the goodbye time when children are tired and relatives want hugs and kisses, the child can give out a hug and kiss without a grumpy meltdown.
Keeping the Thanksgiving meal child-friendly
Thanksgiving meals are often marked by complex and unusual foods that children aren’t accustomed to. This can lead to meltdowns at the table, requiring an adult to leave the table with the child and leaving the child hungry and upset. Some ideas to keep the meal child friendly are:
- Forgo the kids table vs the adult table. Mix everyone together so that adequate interaction can happen among everyone.
- Kids love to eat anything on a skewer or kebob. Using either skewers or straws, let the children skewer their food to make a kebob and then eat it. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, pieces of turkey, pieces of fruit, etc. can all be cut up (even at the table) so that the child can make a more appealing thanksgiving meal kebob.
- With a little preparation your child can make a mini cornucopia and fill it with dried or cut up fruit, nuts or sweet treats or even stuffing! This keeps children engaged at the table and more likely to eat their meal.
Creating an attitude of gratitude
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to help children understand the importance of feeling thankful for what they have and giving to and helping others. One idea that can also serve as a fun table centerpiece is:
- Create a giving tree that is a handcrafted tree that has apples hanging from it. As a family, decide what organization you would like to donate to and get their wish list (most organizations publish their wish lists on line). On each apple write a wish list item. The apples can be distributed before Thanksgiving and each person coming to the meal can bring their donation along with the paper apple that is then hung on the tree. Or at the meal people can select an apple from the tree to take with them and then purchase the wish list item that is on the apple. Prior to the new year the family can then donate the items to the organization.
A Leap of Action provides parenting and educational support for families. Call 512-576-6824 or go to ALeapOfAction.com for more information.