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Worried about Big Emotions and Misbehavior at Christmas?

big emotions emotional regulation heart-based approach to parenting Dec 23, 2023

Over the next few days, a lot is going to happen!

There will be last minute shopping, wrapping gifts late at night, cookies being baked at the last minute, running into Christmas Eve service just barely on time, and lots of visiting with family and friends. Let's not forget that your child will likely wake up on December 25 earlier than they have ever woken up on a school day!

And somewhere in the middle of all of this we're supposed to reflect on Jesus.


While there are lots of ways to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season, let me suggest one important way we can do that as parents: We need to take care of relationships.

Christmas festivities can be fun, exciting, and filled with memories. But they also get us off our schedule, overload us with activities and people, keep us up late, and fill us with sugar. So there is A LOT of opportunities for your child to struggle with big emotions and behavior. So they are going to need us to really be mindful and take care of relationships.

What does that look like, you say?

Here are a few ways that you can practically take care of relationships over the next few days of Christmas festivities:

  • Looking at your schedules, considering the needs your child has, and not booking yourself too tightly
  • Reminding your child of expectations for how we treat others and show love and respect when visiting with family
  • Rehearsing plans with your child for what to do when you become overwhelmed with emotions
  • Making room for all emotions and practicing appropriate ways for your child to navigate less popular emotions like disappointment, sadness, worry, or anger
  • Staying close enough to your child during family events that we can notice how they are doing and if they need a little break from the action
  • Not apologizing to others for your child when they struggle with big emotions or poor choices
  • Remembering your own strategies for remaining calm for your child when they struggle
  • Keeping your coaching mindset in place and helping your child recognize their cues when they are becoming upset or angry or overwhelmed, getting them to pause and reflect, and supporting them moving forward with a plan
  • Expecting and supporting your child in doing the next right thing when they make a mistake (i.e. apologize, make it right, etc.)
  • Reminding yourselves that parenting is messy and that's OK

Christmas is the perfect example of God taking care of relationships. John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world that He sent a text message ... wait, your Bible doesn't say that?

No, of course not. God sent His unique Son, Jesus!

God created us because He loves family and wanted an earthly one, and He loved us enough not to give us some lecture or a text message or a helpful YouTube video when we made a mistake. Instead, He loved us enough to come personally to us in the flesh. He loved us enough to build a relationship with us through Jesus Christ. He loved us enough to lower Himself to being a human so He could help us with our struggles including our ultimate struggle with sin.

So as you go about your Christmas festivities, when your child struggles with their emotions, attitudes, and behavior, remind yourself that He loved you enough to show up in the flesh, build relationship, and help with struggles. While we can't do it nearly as perfectly as Jesus does, ask Him to empower you in your parenting as help your child navigate challenging Christmas moments.

When you do, remind yourself that this is what Christmas is all about.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

All my best,


PS - Need more help?  Check out this resource for navigating big emotions

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