The holidays are filled with fun family activities but can lead to meltdowns in children (even in adolescents in the form of grumpiness). Here are some tips to keeping it fun:

Children should be kept on their sleep (and nap) schedule as much as possible. Sure, we can stay up a little late to watch a great Christmas Special on TV or to attend Grandma’s Christmas Eve party, but keep in mind the profound affect that changes in sleep cycle and routine can have, especially on younger children. Try to plan activities around the sleep schedule.

Children feel better when they maintain a similar diet. Can they have that frosted Christmas cookie? Sure, but in moderation. Too much sugar or carbohydrates makes all of us feel bad in the long run.

Children can easily become overstimulated in crowds and when bombarded with sensory stimuli. Keep this in mind when attending events. Watch for early signs of over-stimulation and take a break or move to a quieter area for a while before a meltdown.

Maintain a good balance of being with family and also some quiet activities. All of us need some quiet time to “regroup”.

Give your children the “heads up” on activities beforehand–what you will be doing, who will be there, and expectations for behavior.

Teach your children to be polite and practice those skills beforehand (how to meet someone new, answer questions, etc). But please don’t force your child to hug and kiss Aunt Sue who he or she has not met (or does not remember). We should not encourage our children to show affection to people they view as strangers.

In this day of easy access photos and videos on our phones, take a few shots to remember the special moments, but then put down your phone so that you can enjoy the moment and be “present” for your family.