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The holidays can be a stressful time for any family, but they can be particularly challenging for a family that has a child with behavioral issues, like oppositional defiant disorder or ADHD. Luckily, with some planning, you can help ensure that a family gathering is enjoyable and low stress for everyone involved.

Behavioral Issues and Family Gathering Tips

Keep the following helpful tips in mind when planning for a family gathering with a defiant child, so you can be prepared for challenges as they arise and to help your kids feel calm and in control during the experience.

Have a Conversation With Your Child About Rules

Before you head to anyone else's house for a family gathering, have an explicit conversation about rules, especially if those rules are different than the ones at your own house. Make very clear how your child has to behave at the event, and what will happen if they break the rules or refuse to listen. Tell them they can ask you questions about the rules, if they're not certain of them at a new person's home.

Consider Having an On-Call Sitter or Relative

If it's likely your child will act out during a family gathering, the best course of action may be to hire a babysitter to be on call during the event. You could also ask another relative who is not at the gathering if they can babysit last minute. Explain to your child that they'll have to behave or they will be taken to stay with another babysitter. This encourages them to behave as asked and minimizes the chances that they'll act out just to get you to leave with them.

Plan Out Adult Supervision for the Event

It's likely that events will go more smoothly if kids are supervised during the event, rather than allowed to roam and play freely. Come up with a schedule for parental supervision and ask other relatives who will be there if they'd be willing to take a shift. Ensuring there's adult supervision for kids at all times minimizes the chance that any unruly behavior gets out of hand.

Be Cautious About Drinking

If you're a parent of a defiant child, plan to only drink moderately (or not at all) at a family gathering. You may need to leave the gathering or bring your child elsewhere, and you want to be able to exit the situation safely if need be.

Talk to Relatives in Advance

Be open and honest with your relatives about your child's struggles and what they might expect at the gathering. Feeling shame about your situation can only make the entire experience worse, so by getting everyone on the same page, you can feel supported and calmer with other people around.

For over a decade, we’ve helped over 40,000 children improve the critical skills needed to create a brighter path for their future. Our team can help determine why your child struggles, then help equip them to better handle their own challenges, so they can enjoy and thrive in family gatherings, classrooms, social events, and more. If you're concerned that your child is not meeting social or behavioral milestones or is struggling socially or behaviorally, contact us online to learn more about how the Brain Balance Program can help. You can also view the research and results of the program on the website.

Download Our Guide to Navigating Family Gatherings

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