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10 HOLIDAY STRESS BUSTERS FOR PRESCHOOLERS
By Jean Warren

Often during holiday times children get caught up in too much excitement and they need ways to calm down and get back on track. Besides sticking to regular routines and limiting the number of over-stimulating activities, here are 10 fun activities that can help calm down your child.
 
1) HOLIDAY STORIES
If you have a tape recorder, tape your favorite holiday stories. This way, your child can Settle down and listen even while you are not around. If you are taping the story from a book you have available, tape the story word for word, so that your child can follow along. Be sure to tell them when to turn the page or ring a bell as a reminder.

You might also want to record recollections you have about holidays when you were young and what you remember the most.

2) WATER PLAY
Water play always has a calming effect on children. Set out a dishpan full of warm water on a low table or on the kitchen floor. Add a few drips of liquid detergent for bubbles and a few drops of food coloring (if you want color). Give your child empty plastic measuring cups, straws, small plastic containers, etc. Children should wear old clothing and an apron of some sort. (A plastic garbage bag with holes cut out for the head and arms works well.)

3) MUSIC
Music can excite or calm. Choose calming tapes or music on the radio for your child to listen to while playing during the holidays. Drawing or painting to soft peaceful music usually has a calming effect on children.

4) SAND PLAY
Most areas of the country are too cold to play out in a sandbox during this time of year. You can, however, create a small sandbox indoors for your child. Cut the sides down on a sturdy cardboard box or else use a plastic dishpan. Fill the pan half full with either cornmeal, crumbled cork, washed coffee grounds or small beans. Set out small cars, play people, spoons, cups, craft sticks, etc. in the pan.

5) FELT BOARD FUN
Make a felt board by covering a heavy piece of cardboard or a light board with felt or flannel. A carpet square or a piece of indoor-outdoor carpeting can also be used. Next, cut felt pieces to represent a holiday scene. A felt tree with different colored circle bulbs is fun to decorate and redecorate. Make felt pieces that represent presents, toys, etc. to place under the tree. And don'’ forget a star shape for the top of the tree.

6) WALKING TOURS
During the holiday is a great time to bundle your children up and take them on a walking tour of your neighborhood. Have children try to spot signs of the holiday in windows and yards of people’s homes. Exercise and walking in particular is a great tension reliever.

7) BIRD WATCHING
Wintertime can be a fun bird watching time. Help your child to make a bird feeder. Fill it with breadcrumbs or birdseed and set it out where your child can observe it from indoors. Simple bird feeders can be made by cutting out large windows in plastic bottles or milk cartons.

8) PLAY DOUGH
Children can usually play peacefully for a long time with a batch of play dough. Here is a quick recipe.
In a large bowl, put 1 cup salt, plus 1 cup hot water. Stir until salt dissolves.
Add 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil and some food coloring and stir.
Finally add 2 cups of flour. Stir and knead the dough, add more flour if sticky.
Sprinkle some extra flour on a washable kitchen table and set out a ball of dough.
Also, set out blunt knives, rolling pins, small pans, etc.
Look through your kitchen gadgets for other safe items for your child to use.
Birthday candles and cookie cutters are especially fun for children.


9) OLD PICTURES
Take time to look with your children through old snap shots of friends and relatives, especially baby pictures and pictures of previous holidays.

10) COLORING BOOKS
Make a giant coloring book for your children during the holidays. On large sheets of paper, draw large holiday shapes. Staple the sheets together. Set out crayons and let your child finish color or finish the shapes, however they wish.