There are so many things that we as parents worry about around the holidays. Whether it’s meltdowns, how to handle a friend or family member pressuring our child to eat at mealtimes, dessert, leftovers, or something else. If you’re worried about travel and need some tips there, here’s a guide!

Here’s a guide to surviving the holidays with kids (and help you stress less.)

Let’s start with what to do when a friend or family member pressures your child at mealtimes:

  • You can be direct and say something simple like “we let them tell us when they’re full, no one knows better than them”
  • You could redirect the conversation by saying something like “this meal is wonderful. My favorite part is ……. What’s yours?” Or “what was the most enjoyable part of your day? I enjoyed …….”
  • You can (and it would probably help) to validate the person doing the pressuring with a statement like “thanks so much for caring about them!”
  • Something you can do preemptively or after the fact is talk about it directly with your child, what they can expect
  • If the pressure continues, lean in close to your child and remind them quietly that they listen to their tummy, just like always (chances are they will do that regardless)

How to keep yourself feeling positive at meals:

  • Remind yourself that you’re doing your job by supplying the nutritious food and variety of it
  • It’s ok to give more when they ask!
  • Sit together at mealtimes without distractions like phones
  • Remind yourself they are listening to their hunger
  • Remind yourself not to take comments personally, your child is not your peer, you are their confident leader
  • If you need more help with setting up successful mealtimes, check out this link here.

Meltdowns and tantrums:

  • Before/prevention of a meltdown:
    • Tell them what to expect, eg: “we’re going to Grandma and Grandpa’s, these people will be there …… and we’re going to do ……..” This provides them some clarity and a time to ask questions
    • Read their cues! Are they hungry, tired, overstimulated? If so, you can likely address the root cause
  • During the meltdown or tantrum:
    • Validate the feeling and acknowledge what you see, “you really wanted ….. and I said no. You didn’t like that”
    • Let it happen. When you allow them to fully express their feelings, they get it out and it’s their way of telling you something. It’s uncomfortable, but ultimately it’s needed. Take your child to a quite place and be there with them (calmly) while they fall apart
    • Don’t worry what others think. That’s another reason to get yourself and child away so it can happen privately in a safe place

What about dessert and leftovers?

  • Let them know what to expect ahead of time! “There will be …… at lunch/dinner today”
  • Assure them they will get to try a piece
  • If possible, serve with the meal (on the same plate at the same time)
  • If not possible, do it with the rest of the family, one day won’t cause a problem
  • Quietly remind your child if they get full, you will save the rest for later (and then actually do it!)
  • Avoid negative food talk like
    • “You’ve had enough dessert”
    • “You’ve had too much sugar”
    • “That’ isn’t healthy”
    • “That’s junk”
    • “You’ll get fat”
    • “You had too much of this already”
  • This is a real sore spot for parents, if you’re ready to get more comfortable with dessert-type foods and nourish your child’s healthy relationship with all foods, check out the video here.

Remember, this is family time and it’s hard on everyone (parents and children alike.) It’s a big disruption to routine, people are more stressed out, there are new people and/or environments, there may be new foods too. You’ve got this!

Save or pin this guide for easy access when you need it!

Want to feel confident knowing you have some simple, kind phrases up your sleeve to reduce your stress and frustrations at mealtimes? Get started below. Start minimizing mealtime meltdowns and stop fighting with your child so you can enjoy mealtimes again.



Hi, I'm Thalia the Dietitian 👋 I help parents overcome picky eating challenges, conquer mealtime battles and raise happy & healthy eaters. My unique approach to parenting at mealtimes uses elements of the “division of responsibility”, but goes even further when it comes to restricting (or not restricting) foods like dessert. I help parents through my courses and 1-1 coaching program approach mealtime situations from a place of respect, curiosity, and understanding to achieve their desired results. It’s my belief that every child deserves a healthy relationship with food, and every parent can give this gift to their child. I have a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition and dietetics and I'm mum to two little ladies (and a retired guide dog lab.)

1 Comment

Evie Cellucci · May 28, 2020 at 6:19 am

Real great info can be found on web site.

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