The holidays are here! It is my favorite time of year! The hustle and bustle and the lights and presents! BUT, there are kids that get overstimulated and have increased anxiety. My oldest son was one of them. He told me recently that going to my old hometown to see my parents for the holidays, when he was 4 years to 7 years old was stressful to him. He said because we were busy with seeing all the family etc., he was stressed. I never knew this! It took us years to figure out why he would “act up” every time we would go to a party or event. He would purposely get into trouble so he would be punished and not have to go with us. It wasn’t until his therapist let us know what he was doing that we corrected the problem. We would make him go to a new event or party with us and when i saw him getting anxious (he would get this panic look in his eyes and his face would turn red), I would remove him from the room into a quieter place. He would calm down and then we would return to the event after 10 min or so. We would process what happened that day right before bed when he was most relaxed. We would talk about how he survived the situation and how proud i was of him for following it through. The goal was to introduce him to small successes and then increase those successes as he got older. Even as an adult, he still does not like big crowds but he can tolerate them! He knows he will survive! So, talk to your kids about being excited (those butterflies in your stomach, heart beating fast etc), versus being so nervous they feel like they are incapacitated and just can’t cope. Use small outings (saying “hi” to Santa at mall, or just out to dinner) for short periods of time so they can build their confidence. Make sure and let them know when you are going to plan an outing too. Anxiety ridden kids do not like surprises. When we would go on a trip, i would tell my son everything we had planned for the day. If plans changed, I would let him know immediately. Lastly, keep a routine as much as possible in this excessive season. Routines give a sense of control and calmness. Have “downtime” available during the day so they can rest up and get their bodies ready for the evening. And Have Fun!! Laugh, Joke and play games to give everyone’s mind a break!! Hope this helps a little.