‘Tis the season to be stressed out

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HARTFORD - The holidays may still be a couple weeks off, but as you start planning for family gatherings, travel and gift shopping, or maybe the arrival of your college kids for vacation, you might feel the initial stirring of seasonal stress.

Connecticut’s Dr. Amy Alamar, author of  Parenting for the Genius: Developing Confidence in Your Parenting through Reflective Practice visited FOX 61's Good Day Connecticut to give invaluable advice for parents dealing with the inevitable holiday chaos. For example:

Family Travel Time – Many of us board crowded planes to spend the holidays with friends and relatives. To make the trip manageable, it’s important to schedule as best you can to give yourself enough time. Older children should be able to pack for themselves, but help them to prepare with ample distractions. And, it’s imperative that parents pack wisely to keep tots happy and calm. Bring special snacks, (but leave the sweet ones at home to avoid airborne sugar highs). Bring scented diaper bags (for the benefit of fellow passengers). And, bring simple games with few pieces. If your child is fussing even before you board your flight and you see your fellow passengers' eyes rolling, forget about it. And if your tween or teen’s eyes are rolling, try some practical strategies to change the mood. And, remember, this too shall pass.

You’re Not the Boss of Me – After your kids have left the nest for college, they may feel that they are now fully independent and no longer have to abide by your rules and schedules. It’s important to let them know that you applaud their newfound self-reliance and you can find a compromise. They need to know you’re concerned for their wellbeing and that while they’re under your roof (and possibly on your dime), they let you know where they’re going and what time they plan to be home. Independence does not mean thoughtlessness or a lack of respect.

Count Your Blessings – When you’re feeling stressed from the craziness of the holidays, remind yourself of one thing in your life for which you’re grateful. You don’t have to forget your anxieties, but you can remember your blessings. If you talk through these feelings with your children, you will help them to model their behavior on their own, and feel gratitude in its purest form. A regular practice of gratitude is shown to improve empathy, mental alertness, and has added physical health benefits!

To Grandmother’s House We Go – When visiting friends and relatives, it’s wise to have a conversation with your children in advance about how to behave in other people’s homes. And while Grandma might put on a brave face when your kids run screaming through the house, track mud on the cream colored rugs or have a belching contest at the dinner table, it’s probably not how she envisioned the holidays. Kids will be kids, regardless of the locale, and there should be allowances made for energetic displays. That said, your kids should be aware that behavior that’s acceptable in their own homes may not be appropriate elsewhere. It’s up to you, as a parent, to teach your children respect and appropriate behavior for a variety of surroundings.

 - Dr. Amy Alamar