December can be a stressful month for highly sensitive children. Receiving gifts, lots of visitors, a different rhythm than usual. There are many fun but sometimes busy activities at school. We asked the parents: how do you ensure peace of mind? Based on the reactions, we made this choice for hopefully a little more peace of mind.
Marianne: ”When our girls were little, they got a shoe fitting calendar in their shoes, which said exactly when they had to put on a shoe. They were also only allowed to choose a few gifts, so they knew roughly what they were going to get. At Christmas, we have agreed with the families that we will visit one side of the family each year. So that we only go to one or two addresses.’
Modest Christmas lights
Daniëlle: ”Christmas lights provide many visual stimuli that can cause anxiety. Keep it humble and calm. Change your house together with your child and the change will be easier for them to understand. Suddenly the living room looks different for a few weeks, it can be fun, but for children who are sensitive to stimuli, it can be intense.
Visualize what will happen
Saskia: ”Write down on a calendar what needs to happen, then cross off each day that has passed. That way, you can keep an overview, and it can give children peace of mind. Sometimes it’s even better to draw the things that will happen. Especially for children who have difficulty reading or children with developmental disabilities. Then they don’t have to bother to make the translation in their head from letters to understanding. We do that with our son and it helps him.”
Make a choice
Geertje: ”Offer clarity to children and visualize what will happen. And above all, make choices about what to do and what not to do, and also plan for rest.”
Shaving cream, kenetic sand and ice cream
Jolanda: ”Pay extra attention to resting at home. Play a game together, play with orbeez, play with shaving foam in the shower, knead with kinetic sand, or dig into a bowl of toy ice to dig through.”
Take it easy with visitors
Nella: ”At Christmas we celebrate one day with other people, the other day we keep it very quiet. In good weather we go for a walk on the beach. We also prefer to celebrate New Year’s Eve at home so that our son can just go to bed. He himself states that he does not want to be woken up to see the fireworks.
Share the real story
Tjitske: ‘Sharing the real story of Sinterklaas. Both myself and my children have grown up knowing that Sinterklaas lived in the past. It’s still an exciting time, but with that knowledge a little less uncertain and anxious. Our youngest child is three years old when she sees Pieten or Sinterklaas are the real ones, it is difficult for her to understand that he does not exist, that is of course perfectly okay. The oldest is nine, the hardest thing for her is that she has no influence on what is in her shoes once a week.”
An extra trip in the summer
Regine: ”We had everything at the same time in December: Sinterklaas, Christmas, birthdays and children’s parties. We therefore celebrated it all very quietly, briefly and with a small gift. In between we didn’t do anything extra, just played and didn’t watch Sinterklaas news. In the summer, we made an extra nice trip with the children.”
Eveline: ”Our children are allowed to put on their shoes three times during the time that Sinterklaas is in the country up to and including the fifth of December. On Christmas Eve we drink hot chocolate, eat ginger nuts and hear Sinterklaas songs. We put the bag of gifts in the room. Everything is structured and goes about the same every year.’
Anita: ”If I discover that my daughter’s bucket is about to overflow, I will leave her at home for half a day in consultation with the school. After school, she can relax by relaxing in her beanbag in her room and processing everything in her head.
Letting go of so-called obligations
Johanna: ”We put the shoe on during the day. We don’t need anything. Let go of the so-called obligations and enjoy it in your own bubble.
No secrecy about gifts
Marijke: ”Our eldest also has a birthday during this period. Not knowing what gifts to receive caused her a lot of tension. So when she was little we just told her what presents she should get. That period was fun again.”
Clarity about putting on shoes
Kirsten: ”Our son likes it all, but at night he processes all the impressions. We therefore give him clarity on when he can put the shoe on, that’s the only thing that helps us.’
Keep at home
Linda: ”Sinterklaas was just a costumed gentleman from the start. It saved a lot of stress and it didn’t detract from the fun. I also found low-threshold sickness notification from school useful in the first few years. Take a break from the madness. But it should just be possible to do it at home’.
Celebrate with the people you love
Elianne: ”Our youngest knows his limits very well. The last two weeks he regularly asks for play ice cream, great to make. Our six-year-old daughter has a little more difficulty setting her boundaries. We try to go outside a lot and enjoy ourselves as much as possible. We are trying to disperse the crowds. We don’t put pressure on watching all the news and attending all the parties. The gifts are brought to our homes when we are gone for a while, and then we celebrate with the people who are our bodies.