Respecting Our Toddlers During the Holiday

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I have a significant extended family. Big. To accommodate family gatherings, homes have been remodeled AND furniture is taken out so everyone has room to roam.  One of the guaranteed highlights is seeing and visiting with the children.  We all love to dote on the youngest and newest to our family.


As much as I look forward to seeing everyone, I’m also a little unsure of how to balance my daughters’ feelings and people’s eagerness to play with them.


Both my daughters (2 1/2 and 17 months) are, for their own reasons, currently tentative when greeting people.  They have not always been, so this will be a holiday unlike others.


Most people understand and are kind, but sometimes people say things either about the girls or themselves that is unnecessary. So, to try to respect my daughters’ feelings and demonstrate the love we have for our family, I’m going to focus on a couple of things to help us all enjoy this holiday.


No one will hold my child without her permission.

My family loves my daughters. I know how much they mean to them. On the other hand, my daughters may not be ready or interested in getting to know some family under these often loud circumstances.  So, I kindly explain that she’s at that age where she needs to stay close to one of us, her parents.


I expect that these relatives will have a relationship with her in time. For many, there is something special about getting to hold someone else’s baby, but I’ll have to hold my ground.


When adults say “hello,” my older toddler is not willing to respond in kind and she won’t have to.

I have found that when she instead greets people by sharing a story or very recent memory that she is more eager to talk to others, so that’s how I’m expecting us to say “hi” when she’s ready.


How do you negotiate your children’s reactions to unfamiliar people at the holidays?

One Comment

  1. kimmy says:

    Great post Marisa. We experience the same thing-especially with mr. c. My family is the loud and hugging-in your face family. This is something we encounter at every family gathering. I’ve found for both boys having the option to give handshakes or high fives or even a hug instead of having to actually say ‘hello’ is helpful since it can be uncomfortable to have to speak right away. We also do a lot of talking about what is going to happen and who we will see in such and such situation beforehand. This helps a lot too :) I really like your thoughts on this subject. Respecting our children and being their advocate is the most important thing. Hope you all have a happy thanksgiving!!

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