Posted in Child Behavior

The Holidays Are Not Normal - Don't Expect Normal Behavior - By Bryan Post

The Holidays Are Not Normal-Don't Expect Normal Behavior

Bryan is a best selling author, child behavior expert and consultant, internationally recognized speaker on challenging behaviors and attachment issues, and founder of The Post Institute for Family Centered Therapy.

If you read my article for having a more peaceful Thanksgiving, you may have learned a couple of things:


1) Children don’t act out because they want attention; they act out because they need it.;

2) Children need attention because of fear that causes stress which causes their unwanted behaviors;

3) Unwanted behaviors are really a cry for help!

4) So calm the stress and fear, and diminish the unwanted behaviors.


Now, let’s talk Christmas, or whichever Holiday you celebrate this time of year. Yes, I know that most families don’t think twice about their children’s behaviors around holidays, or any other time for that matter. Ninety-five percent of children respond to almost any type of parenting. These kids were fortunate enough to have gotten what they needed during their first three years of life. For them, bonding and attachment helped their neural development to grow naturally to a place where self-regulation is rarely a problem.


For the other five percent, everything is a problem. Moms hate the thought of even taking one of these children to Wal-Mart, let alone to a large family gathering, or worse – to a stranger’s residence. Many of them missed the critical periods of child development. There are many reasons for this such as adoption, foster care, emotional trauma, absent or disinterested parent(s), drugs & alcohol during pregnancy and the list goes on. These parents see the Holidays, especially Christmas, as a minefield. Even trying to get one of these kids into a car to go somewhere can be challenging.


What’s a parent of one of these 5% children to do? First, re-read my Thanksgiving article and make use of the information, especially …“that the parent in the home must bear the responsibility for creating an environment in which stress, while unavoidable, does not create constant tension or crisis.”


Next, read, understand and follow this four point plan for a peaceful Holiday.


1. Window of Tolerance

How much stress can you handle? Your child has a window of tolerance. Begin thinking about this right now. Your child can handle only so much stress before he surpasses his window of tolerance and begins to act out. That can be five minutes. Perhaps ten minutes. Sometimes fifteen minutes. Your child has a window of tolerance and you have a window of tolerance. I want you to think about what that window of tolerance is and keep it in mind. 


2. Time-In

When your child’s window of tolerance runs out, somebody better be there to help reset them which helps them come back inside their window of tolerance. This means that you’re going to do some ‘time-in’ during the holiday season. Keep that in mind, ‘time-in’ instead of time-out. If you’ve ever heard me talk about ‘time in’, you know I don’t do time-outs. Time-out comes from an old paradigm of thought that says children act out for attention. Time-in comes from knowing children act out because they NEED attention, not for attention. If we come from the paradigm that a child is acting for attention, we’re not going to give the child attention. That has been how we’ve always looked at children. We’re going to stop that. That gives the child too much responsibility for what he doesn’t fully have the ability to be responsible for. Don’t do time-out. Do time-in. Children will act for attention. They act out because they need attention. Big difference.


3. Proactive.

By being proactive, we’re going to take the steps to make sure something different happens. These are the steps to help our holidays go better this year than ever before. How can we be proactive? You couldn’t be proactive before. You didn’t know about the window of tolerance. You didn’t know about the need to do time-in. Now you can take the steps necessary to help your child and yourself be successful this holiday season.


Perhaps some of you are thinking that maybe you shouldn’t have to do this. Perhaps you’re asking, “Why won’t my child just act right during the holiday season?” I can’t answer that question. I can tell you you’re dad-gum right. You DON’T deserve to have struggles during the holiday season. You shouldn’t have to do time in or have to be proactive. You don’t deserve any of that. Unfortunately, the other way isn’t working well. We can’t change the past so we’ve got to do something different. That’s what we’re going to do—we’re going to make it different this year and better than any other time before. That’s why you’re going to be proactive.


4. You can’t always be there.

I want you to keep something in mind. You can’t always be there for your child. Your child is going to mess up at some point. He’s going to mess up. His window of tolerance is going to be reached and passed. You will forget about doing time-in when you’re right in the middle of a big-o-turkey leg. We can take all measures to be proactive that can possibly been taken. However, nothing you do is going to prevent something from happening. You’ve got to recognize that. Your child is doing the best he can. You’re doing the best that you can. Unfortunately, life is not always going to be perfect. Put that out of your mind! Just know that you can’t prevent every single thing from happening. You can’t always be there. There will be times when things don’t go right. Just relax and know that no one else is perfect either. So remember these 4 things and your Holiday will be better:


1. Window of Tolerance

2. Time-In

3. Proactive.

4. You can’t always be there.



Choose Love…and Peace will Follow,



Bryan Post is a best-selling author, internationally renowned speaker, and psychotherapist specializing in attachment, adoption and trauma. To learn more about Parenting Challenging Children, Oxytocin the Love Hormone, Mindfulness, and How to Thrive instead of just survive as an adoptive or foster parent,  visit,, and, To find out more about Bryan Post’s ground breaking parenting program Parenting Attachment Challenged Children “Hands-On” Home Study Course visit Join our Facebook page for daily parenting help and inspiration, videos, articles and contests along with other parents and professionals just like yourself. Also visit our Blog at and join the conversation.


To get his twin pack e-Book and Audio download click here How to Turn Holiday Stress Into Peaceful Family Time


This article is courtesy of the Top 1% Club and the Top 1% Club Mentor Gail Kasper. For additional information on Gail Kasper, her television appearances and speaking engagements, please visit