7 Ways You Can Keep Your Family Joyful This Holiday Season

Bah humbug — this is often the knee-jerk reaction to the holiday hubbub.

There are a million gifts to buy, parties to attend, and an overwhelming anxiety about holiday travel.

So, it’s understandable that many people may get fed up with the festivities.

In an effort to keep the holiday blues at bay, here are some suggestions — from experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and others — for helping keep the joy in everything your family does this season.

Whether you’re 3 years old or 30-something, we’re all creatures of habit, so try to stick to your regular schedule even when the holidays are in full swing.

“There is so much anticipation, preparation leading up to the holidays as well as traveling, spending time with family, doing special holiday traditions and activities, that families end up throwing all routine and schedules out the window — and then expect their children to be well behaved and excited about those special moments,” Ari Brown, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician in Texas and a spokesperson for the AAP, told Healthline.

“Holidays can be overwhelming and overstimulating, especially for young children, which leads to tantrums and tears. Respect your child’s need to rest and recharge,” she said.

That also means eating meals when you usually would.

“It’s easy to skip meals or to go longer between meals due to busy schedules,” added Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, the founder and director of Real Nutrition NYC. “Although this might be OK for grownups, children thrive on routine, and their bodies thrive on being fueled.”

Shapiro recommends keeping old favorites in your arsenal.

“During the holidays we tend to enjoy meals that are out of the ordinary,” she told Healthline. “I always recommend having one ‘safe’ food available that you can pair with a new food for your child to try.”

Experts say it’s difficult to feel bad when you’re doing something good.

So, find people who are in need this holiday, and lend them a hand.

“While you don’t need research to tell you that giving to others feels good, there is research out there that supports this,” Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD, a psychologist and author of “Bouncing Back from Rejection,” told Healthline.

“Empirical findings have shown that people feel appreciated and gain a sense of accomplishment when they see others benefit from their efforts,” she explained.

Imagine the intensity of that feeling when all the members of your family participate in something good, such as helping people experiencing homelessness or donating supplies to people who need them.

“There is evidence that being habitually altruistic raises dopamine levels in the brain,” Becker-Phelps said. “This leaves people feeling calmer, having greater self-worth, experiencing less emotional stress, and generally being happier.”

Avoid the “I can’t believe you bought me this” stare by choosing toys that suit the age, abilities, skills, and interest level of your child, the AAP suggests.

“Pay attention to the age on the box, and make sure the child you are buying the toy for is either the same age as the age listed on the box or 2 years older,” Jackie Cucco, senior editor of The Toy Insider, told Healthline.

“Buying toys that are too advanced or not challenging enough can be really disappointing for kids,” she said. “Shop with kids’ interests in mind so that you know what they like and can give them a gift that’s relevant to them.”

Having trouble selecting the right device for their age?

Cucco recommends starting young ones off with kid-friendly smart devices that offer passcode-protected web browser features, so you’re in the driver’s seat even when it’s in their hands.

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