Holiday Behavior Problems -- and How to Avoid Them

How to keep little kids from melting down for the holidays.

Say No to Stress

The holidays can -- and should -- be a special time for you and your baby or toddler. In fact, participating in annual traditions can be good for a child's development. We see the fact that holidays are important to children in their pretend play for months afterward, says Marilyn Segal, PhD, a professor of child development at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale and the author of Your Child at Play series (Newmarket Press). The holidays also give kids a way of marking the year and help anchor them in time and space, adds Dr. Segal.

But while the holidays have the potential to be a positive experience for young children, they can also be a source of stress. Taking toddlers and preschoolers out of their familiar routine and surrounding them with people they don't know may result in behavior that's worse than usual just when you want to show your child off. Still, there's a lot you can do to disaster-proof your holidays. Knowing what to expect and planning accordingly is the first step. Here are five of the biggest holiday hot spots and the best ways to handle them.

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