Spring holidays are fast approaching! Along with some much needed sunshine and fresh air. Holidays are an exciting time - but the sudden changes in the routines of families can cause stress, anxiety, guilt, and shame - and lead to increased emotional tantrums in children.
But the sudden changes in the regular routine of a family and consequences of those changes (like tantrums, defiance, and seemingly endless treats and sweets), can lead to parent and caregiver stress, anxiety, guilt, and shame. For children, there may be increased tantrums and fussiness making mealtimes difficult to manage.
As adults, we try our best to adapt to the elevated stress and changes in routine. But children have a much more difficult time coping because their young selves thrive on routine and structure. Changes in meal routines - even if for just one day - can disrupt usual eating patterns. Disruptive behaviors can be further exacerbated among children with ADHD, sensory processing, autism, and/or other developmental disorders.
In addition, parent stress may inadvertently induce a stress response in children that can promote unwanted behaviors including opposition and defiance. For picky eaters, this can mean increased pickiness and emotional outbursts surrounding mealtimes. However, as summarized in the handout below - simple behavioral strategies that support routine and consider sensory processing, anxiety/stress, and self-care can make the holidays (or any sudden change in routine!) more manageable for families with a picky eater.
To access the handout, download the high-resolution PDF file or PNG image (lesser quality) below.