Easter is nearly here, and with it comes the challenge of celebrating a holiday with our kids from “hard places.” Many of our kids crave routine, and holidays throw them off.
Here are six simple tips for helping our kids stay regulated this Easter.
1.| Sleep: As much as possible, keep bedtime routines the same, even if there are guests in the house or you are visiting someone. Lack of sleep is a trigger for all of us, and especially for kids with trauma histories. They crave consistency and their bodies need rest.
2.| Food: Offer high protein foods and have them readily available. Food like cheese sticks, pepperoni, beef jerky, and nuts will do the trick.
3.| Treats: Allowing treats makes holidays more fun. If there are candies you want to avoid (like artificially colored jelly beans) be sure to have a good replacement. Our kids have experienced deprivation; if all of their cousins and friends are eating a particular treat and they are deprived of it, we’re setting ourselves up for dysregulation.
4.| Table: Don’t make the dinner table a place of conflict, especially when guests are present. Our kids are likely to be in a heightened state of arousal and may revert to old behaviors. Tiny prompts may help, but instructing them in the presence of guests will trigger shame, which is already deep in their core. I prefer to keep the mood light, unless a behavior is so aversive it needs to be addressed. If that’s the case, try to speak privately with your child.
5.| Sensory Input: Give kids time and space to get the wiggles out. Jump ropes, bubbles, and sidewalk chalk in Easter baskets will get them outside and active. Indoors, PlayDoh is great for sensory input and lots of fun. Bubblegum is also a good tool for helping kids regulate. Children who are overwhelmed by too much noise can wear ear protection to stay calm. Guests may think it’s odd, but it’s far better than a meltdown.
6.| Simple: Keep the weekend, and especially Easter Sunday, simple. If an egg hunt is too stimulating or gives too much opportunity for a child to dominate, skip it. If church exhausts your child, make time for a nap before dinner guests arrive. Don’t buy new clothes that feel itchy or stiff for your child. The more familiar and comfortable things are, the better.
I love Easter and I’m looking forward to surrounding our table with people we love. We’ll make time for passing a football in the yard and jumping on the trampoline, have plenty of high protein snacks, and stay in our routines as much as possible.
A little planning goes a long way.
Happy Easter, friends. Much love from my family to yours.