In all of the hustle & bustle of the holiday season, it’s so easy for all of us to get carried away with all of the excitement, stimulation, and noise of it all. Especially our kids. But, it’s our job as adults to help teach our kids the skills they need in order to successfully cut through all that noise, calm themselves down, and make a new choice. According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), 1 of the 5 SEL Core Competencies is:
Self-management: The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals.
Don’t we all need a little extra support as we navigate the craziness of holiday shopping/entertaining/traveling/family dinners/house guests? Why not use this holiday season as a 2-month practice in Self Management?
Each day at Go Girls! Camp, we have a time in our day called Relax & Read. This is a critical time in our day right after lunch and recess where the girls have had plenty of time play and chat and laugh and run around. Relax & Read is when the girls can practice self-management, practice controlling their behavior after such a high energetic output. They practice moving from social time to alone time. They start to value and look forward to this time as a way of balancing their energy throughout the day. Sounds nice, huh?
I highly recommend implementing some kind of quiet time in your home. Here are 5 points to help make your quiet times successful and…well…quiet:
- Transitions: If you pay attention to nothing else, focus on how you communicate transitions in and out of this quiet time. Make sure to give your kids fair warning as to when the quiet time will begin. For example, in the car in the way home from the mall you might want to say, “Okay, when we get home, you can spend 10 minutes looking through everything we bought and then we will start quiet time. Got it?” They will need this warning to help them transition their energy. Give them the same courtesy on the tail end as well. Hopefully, she will get really into her quiet time and won’t want it to just end abruptly. Give a soft warning “Honey, quiet time will be over in a few minutes and then it will be time for dinner.”
- Timing: Quiet time does not have to be long, especially if you are just starting. 15 minutes is a good length of time for kids and it will still be helpful. As your family gets more practice, you can increase the time. We do our Relax & Read for about 30 minutes. Get out your smartphone and set the timer or better yet, have your daughter do it. She will be more invested in the time when she can see when it starts and when it ends.
Offer Few (screen-free) Choices: Last weekend, I did a quiet time with my nieces after a shopping trip. There choices were “lay down, read a book, or draw.” That was it. It’s always great to give kids a choice about what they can do with their time but it is overwhelming to have too many choices. Fewer choices make it feel calmer for both of you. Plus, this is time to practice unplugging and relying on yourself to get quiet so watching a show on the iPad does not help.
- Ritualize it: Do it everyday. Or every Saturday. Whatever you want and works for your family’s lifestyle. Whatever you decide, giving your quiet time a regular place in your routine makes it just as important as bedtime or dinner time and it will give you all something to look forward to. Plus, it’s practice. You will get better at it the more you do it.
- Do it with them. Quiet time is not just something your daughter will benefit from. So will you. Like I said, we all need a little practice getting sane during the holiday season, us grown ups included. You may be tempted to use the time to get some chores done or make that one phone call. I get it. But I’m here to tell you that you deserve a few minutes of quiet everyday just like your kids do. Plus, when you do it with them, you are modeling the importance of getting quiet in a way that will benefit your daughter for life. So pick your book, grab your blankie, and settle in.