By Heather Deveny-Leggitt
For school age children, and even those ages one to five, holiday breaks can be an anticipated time of excitement, fun, and extra time with the family. However, they can also be a disruption from regular routine often causing increased unpredictability and anxiety. It can take a while for everything to feel as though it settles back to “normal” . . . and then there seems to be another day off. Sticking with a predictable, semi-structured routine will help manage anxiety. You can help your child learn, or re-learn, this routine by talking with them about it.
For younger children a picture schedule for their morning or after school/daycare routine can be helpful. Young children think in pictures so visuals are often a more helpful cue than verbal language when they are ramped up. A morning schedule may include things like getting dressed, eating breakfast, and brushing teeth. This can be made with simple clipart images and a word or two to explain the expectation.
Older children can help you create the schedule and may or may not need the pictures. A reminder: if you give your child screen time it is best to do it early in the afternoon/evening as it activates the “awake” parts of our brains. While there may be resistance at first, stick with it! After a week or two children will need fewer reminders and be more likely to follow the routine.