With Thanksgiving just three days away, images of smiling families and overflowing cornucopias color every TV, website and magazine in America.
But for many parents, learning how to cook the juiciest turkey is last on the priority list. There are much bigger concerns, like making sure your son doesn’t hit his sister at the dinner table, or knowing what to say when your mother in-law criticizes your parenting.
Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a performance where your child’s behavior takes center stage. If you feel judged, embarrassed or ashamed, remember this:
Don’t compare your insides to everyone else’s outsides.
On the inside, parents are often full of worry and concern for their children, their relationships and their own well-being. Sometimes we compare these emotions to how we see other families – we engage in negative thinking, hold ourselves to unrealistic standards and assume the worst about our parenting.
It may look like other parents have it all together – they have the perfect house, the perfect marriage, the perfect well-behaved kids – but inside their homes, a lot goes on that you don’t see. There’s a good chance the “perfect family” is going through the same internal struggle as you.
For parents of kids with challenging behavior, the added pressure of the holidays can be especially difficult. It’s important to take care of yourself – ease anxiety by sticking with routine as much as possible, and be clear about your family’s approach to the holidays. This includes talking with your kids ahead of time about your expectations for their behavior.
If your son has a hitting habit, talk through what he can do when he’s feeling angry with his sister instead of hitting her, and what your response will be if they can’t follow the rules. You can’t control anyone’s choices, but you do have control over your own response.
For more Thanksgiving parenting strategies, check out 6 Ways to Manage Tantrums, Misbehavior and Meltdowns During the Holidays.
You might not have a picture-perfect Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate – even if it means finding one small thing to be grateful for. Here at Empowering Parents, we’re thankful to be a part of your parenting journey.
Wishing you a moment of peace at the start of this hectic season.
All the best,
Marissa S., Empowering Parents Coach
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“If your child’s behavior has improved or changed, it’s really a form of thanks to you for what you’ve done.” -Janet Lehman, MSW, co-creator of The Total Transformation