The countdown to your holiday has ended. Finally, the day has come. Everyone appears excited as we prepare for the new places to visit, new people to meet, new adventures to explore and lots of new, new, new. But soon, the inevitable. The meltdown of all meltdowns. But why?
Holidays and travelling appear a great idea and, for many, it is all smooth sailing. However, for others it becomes an absolute nightmare. But why? Aren’t holidays supposed to be fun and enjoyed by all? As much as there is much to look forward to in a holiday, there is also much that people don’t feel equipped to respond to. Our principles at Fabic are based on understanding that all unwanted behaviour is preceded by anxiety.
The meltdowns that occur for many are simply because the holidays are presenting parts of life they may perceive they do not yet have the required skills to respond to. For example, some people perceive they are not equipped to deal with new people, new places, new experiences, new adventures or new sensations.
Holidays present change. Just about anything that is familiar to a person changes when they go on holiday. Their routine often changes, their bed, the room they wake up in, the places they visit, the people they spend time with, the activities they participate in etc. Everything changes on holidays. Holidays take away the familiarity of life by offering the unfamiliar.
The unfamiliar may be embraced by many, but for others is the trigger to anxiety. So should we not go on holidays? Absolutely not. Holidays are like any other part of life — an opportunity to learn life skills.
What if we embraced the holiday not as a ‘relief from life’ but rather a new part of life where new skills are required. What if a person’s life lesson is learning to embrace and feel equipped to respond to ‘new’ and all the ‘new’ that the holiday will bring.
Holidays can go from potential nightmares for some to smooth sailing by simply applying some simple tools along the way:
- Always allow your child to express what they are feeling. Bring understanding to the communication.
- Never judge what they are saying, experiencing or feeling to be wrong. Statements starting with “I understand this might be tough for you” go a long way.
- Don’t switch off and make your holiday a relief from your everyday life. Embrace the holiday as another learning opportunity. With learning opportunities, we can be open to teaching and learning new skills.
- Well before the holiday, help create pictures so the person knows what to expect. Use calendars to show how many sleeps away the holiday is. Use the internet to show where you are going and some possible experiences you will have.
- Above all else, ensure your child feels safe to be themselves, to express what they are finding challenging and given the opportunity to learn in every given moment.
Holidays are no different to any other part of life
as they are a part of the school of life.
This article and image were originally published in the October 2016 Edition of Haven For Families Magazine.