Hope For The Journey

Holiday Magic or
Holiday Meltdown: Limit Holiday
Meltdowns For their

It’s supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year.” However, oftentimes the holidays come with some additional stresses.  In the midst of trying to keep everything together now, you’re also expected to buy presents, send out holiday cards, decorate the house, and potentially host or visit extended family.  You may feel like you’re struggling to tread water with all of the holiday pressures and expectations. …….AND then your child has a meltdown. 

How are you supposed to have the patience to respond to them on top of everything else?!

 Take a deep breath.  Breathe in, and then out.  You can do this.  You are an amazing parent. 

Why Do Children Have Holiday Meltdowns?


The behaviors that your child displays during a tantrum or meltdown such as yelling, screaming, talking back, refusing to follow directions, etc. all occur when they are feeling big emotions that they don’t understand or know how to deal with.  Just like the holiday season may have changes in your routine that stress you out- change and added expectations stress out your child too.  Except that they do not have the words or the skills yet to handle it the way that an adult would. 


How Can Parents Manage Holiday Meltdowns?


As their parent, you get the opportunity to teach them the essential skills of recognizing and managing their emotions.  You continuously have the power to set them up for success for life!  Pretty cool, right?  It starts with healthy co-regulation and it’s a lot easier than you might think.  Co-regulation is the idea that your actions and emotional affect have an effect on your child’s actions and emotional affect. 

So picture this, you’re in a public area.  Perhaps at the grocery store trying to finish that essential holiday shopping after a long day at work.  Your child is getting restless and asks for a toy.  You say no and then wham, long, loud, red-faced screams erupt before you can do anything else.  The logical part of their brain that helps to control their impulses is no longer online.  Your face gets hot. You start to worry about everyone around you.  You’re wondering whether they are watching or judging you as a parent.   What do you do?

Model Calmness to Manage Holiday Meltdowns


In this immediate moment, do something to make yourself feel calm.  The way that you respond to your difficult emotions will serve as a model for how your child will learn to handle theirs.  Techniques to quickly calm down your nervous system include:

  1. Taking a few deep breaths. 

  2. Thinking of a safe/calm place and momentarily going there in your mind. 

  3. Noticing five things in your immediate environment that you can see.

  4. Relaxing your muscles. 

Remember, your child picks up on your energy and even takes it on themselves. So if you respond in a way that is angry, overwhelmed, upset, etc that is how your child is going to react back to you.  On the other hand, if you respond in a way that is calm, understanding, and affirming, you are demonstrating safety and your child is much more likely to “calm down” once they feel heard and understood.


Express Feelings to Manage Holiday Meltdowns


You want to meet your child where they are at and connect with their “emotional brain” in a helpful way.  An example of this could be saying to your child: 

  • “I understand that you are very upset that you don’t get to have a toy today.” 

  • “I know that you really wanted a toy and it is hard for you now to be in the store without one.” 

  • “I am here to help you.” “We are going to finish shopping and then we are going to go home.”


The aim is to name and validate your child’s emotional response.  It may seem extreme to you, but what they are feeling and going through is real and important to them. You want them to feel heard and understood while you still maintain the parental boundary of no.  

Celebrate Progress to Manage Holiday Meltdowns


Once a child feels safe, heard, and understood then they are able to become more in control of their behaviors. When you notice that your child is showing more success at handling their emotions without melting down, praise them!  Let them know that you see their successes.  This will help build your child’s confidence! 

Managing holiday meltdowns on top of everything else on your plate this holiday season does not have to be overwhelming and impossible. Try out these techniques and let us know in the comments how it helps you! And of course, if you need additional help, we’re here for you. Hope For The Journey has licensed therapists who are ready to help support you as you navigate through the stressful situations of the holiday season.  If you or your child are continuously struggling to manage your emotions, please reach out!  We’d love to help. 

Begin Working With A Child Therapist in Round Rock, TX or Austin, TX

Our team of caring therapists would be happy to offer support for you and your child during the holiday season, and all year round. We can offer support with both in-person and online therapy services. You can start your therapy journey with Hope For the Journey by following these simple steps:

1. Contact Hope for the Journey

2. Meet with a caring therapist

3. Start building your child’s confidence!

Other Services Offered with Hope For The Journey

Child therapy isn’t the only service our team of therapists offers. We are happy to offer a variety of services to support the mental health of you and your family. This is why we are happy to offer counseling for teens and young adultscouples, men, parents and partners, and the LGBTQ+ community. Other mental health services offered include EMDR therapy, anxiety treatment, sexual assault counseling, domestic violence recovery, PTSD treatment, and anger management. Feel free to learn more about us by visiting our blog or meet our team pages today.

Scroll to Top