How to Have a Peaceful Holiday Season – Part 8 The Arrival

Note: This is a yearly re-broadcast series to help parents prepare for, and have a more peaceful holiday season, we will be presenting the entire contents of my e-Book How to Turn Holiday Stress into Peaceful Family Time – On Sale for the Holidays between now and Christmas.

Don’t let the Holidays sneak up on you—they come every year around the same time. Many of our children have great difficulty staying regulated during this time—as do their parents. Be prepared. Plan ahead. Don’t let your frustration, fear or anger ruin the season. Use the Stress Model to help bring calm and peace on earth and goodwill toward all— especially children and parents!

The Arrival | Okay, you arrive at the in-laws house. You pull up into the driveway and stop. You tell everyone to take a deep breath. Breathe, breathe, breathe. Remember you’ve been breathing the entire drive so this is easy for you now. You’re going to say to your child, “Okay, honey, I know it’s going to be kind of stressful in here. I know there’s going to be a lot of activity but we’re going to be fine. If you find yourself becoming really stressed or really scared you come tell mommy, and we’ll take a little break and we’ll take a little walk. Mommy is going to do the same with you. If I start feeling myself really stressed, if I start feeling scared at all I’m going to come and get you and you can help me feel safe, okay?

We’ll take a little walk together and then we’ll go back to doing what we were doing but we’re going to need to take that little break.” Have that communication with your child and then you’re ready to go in. Next is when the window of  tolerance comes into play. Before you go inside and everyone starts to acclimate themselves with one another, even before you get out of the car, you’re going to tell your child it’s okay to stay with you as much as she wants. They can  come and sit by you. They can come stand in the kitchen, sit in the kitchen close to you. They can do that at any point.

You’re going to make sure they understand that. I know, you may not like that thought. I understand that but you didn’t like last year either. That’s why you don’t want to do the same thing you always do. Mr. T.D. Jakes says, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always be where you’ve already been.”

We’re going to do something different now. Let your child know its okay. It’s your responsibility to keep them safe. As  soon as you get in, your child, of course, will probably take off with all the other kids. You look at your watch. By now  you have a real good idea what their window of tolerance is. You know their window of tolerance and how much they can  handle. So look at your watch and start timing them. After about eight minutes, get up and you go check on your child. Call them over, look them in the eye, kiss them, pat them, ask if they’re having fun and they will say, “Yea, mom.” Then say, “Okay, do you need anything?” They will say, “No mom.” Then say, “All right have a good time!”

“Give your child’s brain an opportunity to regulate and prepare for the next transition”

Let them go back and play and you go back and continue doing what you were doing. It’s going to take you ten seconds to check in with them, but look at it this way. It’s a ten second investment, a ten second investment that’s going to pay off for fifteen minutes. That’s powerful. By investing that ten seconds, your child will be able to play approximately fifteen minutes without another contact. Then start your timer again. Remember that what you’re doing is you’re recognizing, understanding, respecting and honoring the window of tolerance. You’re not setting them up to go outside their window
of tolerance. You’re meeting them before their window of tolerance expires. As soon as you make contact and meet them before their window of tolerance expires, it resets itself and it adds another half of the existing window of tolerance.

Now you’re up to fifteen minutes. Keep checking every fifteen minutes. What’s going to happen if you let it go longer than fifteen minutes before checking in? Within sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen minutes, your child will be yelling. Another child will be yelling. There will be a fight breaking out. You’re not just being proactive for your child, you’re making this Holiday season better for the whole family by being  proactive. You’re taking responsibility. Every time you go and make contact with your child, that’s going to have an influence on everyone else’s child too.

I know this is a lot of information; take a deep breath. Yes, you’ll have an impact not only on your child, but on everyone
else’s child too. You’re going to do this repeatedly. You ’re going to make another contact with your child. You’re going to go and hit that window of tolerance again before its eclipsed and each time you do that you can buy yourself a little more time. What you’re going to find is that you’ve gone through the entire morning and afternoon with no problems.

You’re going to do this three times. On the third time, you’re going to say to your child, “Honey, come here for a minute.” Then say, “I’m feeling a little stressed right now. Would you mind if we took a little walk outside real quick. Then you can come back and play.” Most times they are going say, “Sure.” They may protest and you’re going to tell them, “I really  need it, I really need it. I’m feeling so stressed right now. I just need to spend some time with you. Give me five minutes.”

You’re going to take those five minutes. You’re going to go outside. You’re going to walk down the driveway and you’re going to come back. It’s that simple.

Hey, Santa! We’re not buying into stress this year! You’re going to take those five minutes and then your child is going to back to play. You’re feeling good right now. You’re feeling good because you are having a successful Thanksgiving Day. You are having a successful Christmas, okay.

Now what happens if you’re child begins to act out and the seeds of a problem begin to appear? Because you’ve been checking in regularly and honoring that window of tolerance, guess what? They don’t blow up. If you walk in there, you’re child is in the corner, arms crossed, angry look on their face, then you just walked in at the best time! Hooray for you. You just cut off a potentially bad situation. Now you can go in and sit down by your child and whisper, “What’s up?”

“You’re taking responsibility. Every time you go and make contact with your child, that’s going to have an influence on everyone else’s child too.”

“Well, Johnny took the toy from me and Johnny always does this every single year.” Remember their kids do the same thing. They are conditioned. We’ve done a good job as parents of conditioning children. So now you’re going to say, “Let’s go out for a little bit.” Now, you’re interrupting your child’s stress.

Success, success, success! If your child begins to act out, then you do time-in. The only difference from time-out and time-in is that you bring your child into you in time-in. Time-in can be the walk down the driveway. Time-in can be  bringing your child in while you’re sitting down talking with the in-laws while watching the football game or while the turkey is basting or while you’re digesting that last piece of pecan pie, which was probably not the last, but was actually the third piece, which point you finally decided was the last piece! But then not quite. You’re going to have one more sliver before you retire for the night or head home. That’s just the kind of thing we do during the holidays, right?

So you’re going to bring your child in and you’re going to have her sit with you for a while. This is what you say. “Why don’t you just hang out with me for a while? When you are feeling better you can go back and play.” Allow your child to own a little bit of what most children can handle...”when you are feeling better you can go back and play.”

Most children will sit by you for twice as long as they would if you would have given them the time-out requirement. Not only are you respecting and honoring the window of tolerance, you are practicing time-in. You’re being proactive. Even though you check the window of tolerance, you do time-in, you worked at being proactive, sometimes your child ends up
running around screaming. Then the other little cousin is running and screaming right behind him. One of them is yelling, “He did it!” The other is saying, “He did it!” You know how that story goes. What happens now?

You breathe. You take a deep breath and you begin to breathe. You practice your four, seven, eight. You say to your child, “Its okay. Come here. Sit down. It’s all right.” Your child is trying to defend himself because they are all in survival mode. This is an important to know. In times of stress, we constrict into survival. In times of stress, the cells of our body actually constrict into survival. The moment you become stressed out, you are in survival. You’re no longer present for your child because stress does three things:

  1. • Stress causes you to react out of the past. Stress says, “Oh no. It’s going to be just like last year!”
  2. • Stress causes you to obsess about the future. You think, “Oh No! This year or next year will be the same. We’re NEVER going to have a good holiday season ever, ever, ever and ever.
  3. • It takes you out of the present. As soon as it takes you out of the present, you are officially no longer in the here and now. As long as that is happening, as long as you are not in the here or now, you’re not anywhere. So breathe and stay present. Breathe and stay present.

“In times of stress, the cells of our body actually constrict into survival. The moment you become stressed out, you are  in survival”

So far, what you’ve been able to do is honor the window of tolerance. You’ve been able to do time-in. You’ve been able to be proactive. When you can’t always be there, you’re going to recognize that that’s okay. You’re going to take some deep breaths. You’re going to pull your child into you and you’re going to say, “Son, just sit down here with dad for a little bit.”

You know what? It may be time to actually take a break and spend some time with your child. Go outside, toss a ball  around. Make sure you bring one with you, like a basketball. Go for a walk down the street. Take a drive to the store. Go to the park. Sometimes you’re going to need to do that and I’m going to recommend you do that at least twice during the day. Your child is going to need that one on one contact time with you because that helps them to regulate.
Got that? If you can do these four things you will have a different result:
• 1. The window of tolerance.
• 2. The time-in.
• 3. Being proactive
• 4. Recognizing that you can’t always be there and that’s okay; and breathe using the four, seven, eight count
when you can’t be there and you are on your way to success!

Coming Up Next… Mealtime

You have permission to copy this and circulate to as many people as you think can be helped Help us to bring peace on earth and goodwill toward all.

Timeless wisdom for preparing yourself and your challenging child for a smooth transition through the Holiday Season. Don’t let your fear of the past haunt you this year. Get Bryan’s 4 Point Plan – Don’t let the holidays just happen!

Holiday book and cd v.2To purchase this twin-pack e-Book and mp3 audio file on sale for only $4.95 click here.


  1. Kim McClernan says:

    This was a great reminder that the Holidays are for our family. Our children need us especially those from hard places. It is amazing how many parents will say, “they’re ok they cant hurt anything.” Really what about them as children? Thank you Brian.

Leave a Reply