The busyness of the holiday season has claimed your attention as you search the stores to find those items that will, you hope, fulfill the dreams of your toddler. From the routine of daycare drop-off to mall-browsing, your toddler senses the increased stress you carry. Funny thing is, these little people beside you also feel your stress. Perhaps, you pick them up from daycare a little later than usual. Maybe you’re a little more irritable or less patient with their childish behavior. Perhaps, financial stress is cramping your style this year. It is up to you, as parents (or grandparents), to plan your holiday celebration with your small people in mind.

For those of us with small children in our homes, try to remember their presence. Explain the significance of the decorations and activities that are important to you. If something is important to you, it is only reasonable that you take the time and effort to “share” it with your child. They want to know. They want to be a part of it, so do what you can to let them.

Important developmental concepts include the understanding of fantasy vs reality. (Family is real!) Decide if comparisons are needed to help with this concept. Is Santa as real as Jesus? Are Rudolf or Frosty as important as the history of the holidays you celebrate and the historical figures associated with them?

Plan activities in which they can participate.

Do not under estimate the ability of your toddler to pick up on your stress, but also on your joy! It is pretty much your choice, as parents, whether your holiday season is stress-filled or fun. If you have small children, you may want to keep things simple. Remember how often they prefer the boxes to the expensive toy!

Examine the focus of your celebration. For most of us, family is the single most important ingredient in the recipe for a happy holiday. Are gifts the center of your celebration, or are there family traditions you wish to establish?

There are stress signs to watch for in your toddler as the holidays unfold: READ MORE

Remember, toddlers are … TODDLERS! They are not adults. They are not toys or pets. They are toddlers and want to please their parents, so help them learn what is important in your family.