Christmas can be a wonderful and joyful time for families, but it can also be very challenging, especially for parents with younger children who often feel under even more pressure to make Christmas magical for their family. We often have such high expectations of ourselves and of the rest of our family at this time of year – wanting so much for everything to be perfect – that it can be extremely difficult when things don’t turn out in the way we expected. We may find that our ideas about how to celebrate the festive season are very different to that of our partners’. We may have different beliefs surrounding the giving and receiving of gifts, how we wish our children to behave and our parenting values may also clash with grandparents and the wider family.

This is why it’s important to try to anticipate potential problems before they arise and ensure that everyone’s needs in the family are met. Here are some top tips from parenting coach, Nadim Saad to make the festive season a harmonious and happy time:

Planning ahead

From the buying of gifts to the cooking of the Christmas meal, a plan will always be your greatest ally in the festive run up. Plans can be made for almost everything including: travel, shopping, food, decorations, deliveries, outings, social events, the big day itself and its aftermath. If you can, try to get your children to participate in the drawing-up, as well as the execution of these plans, as this encourages children to become involved in the decision-making side of family life.

Limited choices

The combination of unstructured time and high levels of excitement mean that emotions can easily get a bit overwrought and power struggles begin to surface. Offering our children limited choices (that suit us as well as them!) helps them to feel empowered during what can be a confusing time for them. The choices you offer can remain simple and can be offered to a child at any age e.g. “Would you like to go up to bed now or in ten minutes?” or “Would you like to play with Granny or help me make mince pies?”

One-on-one time

We know, we know, at Christmas time is at an even greater premium than usual but if time and circumstance permit, try to schedule a little one-to-one time with each of your children. As well as encouraging you to spend some real quality time with your children, one-on-one time is a really useful way of building a connection and reducing conflict between you. But don’t forget to book some special time for yourself too – remember its your Christmas too and you’re allowed to enjoy yourself just as much as the rest of the family!

Value setting

Christmas is a great time to encourage children to get into the spirit of giving and sharing and generally thinking about the needs of others. Perhaps encourage them to make gifts or cards for relatives and teachers, (a picture is always appreciated) or to help choose presents. You could also include introducing the concept of giving to those in need, for example donating old toys and clothes to charity.

The Working Parents' Guide to Raising Happy and Confident ChildrenAuthor Nadim Saad is a parenting and relationship coach and the founder of Best of Parenting. Get more information and advice at Best of Parenting  

The Working Parent’s Guide to Raising Happy and Confident Children is available now on Amazon.