Christmas Meltdown Plan for Children (Free Printable!)

Emotions run high during the holidays. Prepare for your child’s inevitable Christmas Crash with the Christmas Meltdown Plan printable.

Welcome to Day 8 of the 12 Days of Free Christmas Printable Activities. This is my thank you gift to my wonderful email subscribers for your support of this small business.


Let’s be honest. You know it’s coming.

You wish it weren’t. But you’ve been parenting for a while now.

The Christmas Crash and Holiday Meltdowns will soon be here.

Last year your child turned bright red and had a category four tantrum when he didn’t get the toy he wanted.

Or your daughter needed to be carried out of Target over your shoulder when she staged a sit-in on aisle 12.

Holiday Meltdowns will happen. And fortunately, there is an easy strategy you can use to prevent or minimize meltdowns.

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Why You Need a Christmas Meltdown Plan

The Christmas holidays are an emotional time.

Children are excited for Santa and look forward to getting new toys. Your child is using all their emotional energy to cope with waiting.

Then after the holidays, your child will be coping with disappointment. Whether they didn’t get the present they asked for or they are experiencing holiday letdown, your child will feel down at some point during the holidays.

Your child’s brain isn’t developed enough to manage these huge emotions independently.

The stress is like a pressure cooker, and at some point, your child will blow.

Here’s my biggest piece of advice to all parents:

Accept now that if you have a child with big feelings, there will be at least one meltdown moment.

You can adjust your expectations now so you’re able to stay calm even when your child isn’t.

Preventing Christmas Meltdowns

The good news is you can be proactive and prevent many Christmas meltdowns with your child.

Some simple strategies for preventing Christmas meltdowns are:

  • talk about emotions
  • normalize their experiences
  • develop a plan with your child

Talk about emotions

Make sure that discussing emotions is a regular part of your conversations with your child.  Emotional fluency, or having a strong knowledge of feelings and emotions, is the foundational skill for having emotional regulation.

Normalize their experiences

Make sure your child knows it’s normal to feel the waves of emotions that occur during the holidays. Talk about these situations with curiosity with your child:

  • feeling bored at a family gathering
  • how hard it is to wait for Christmas morning
  • jealousy when someone else gets something they wished for

Develop a plan with your child

Work with your child to come up with a plan to prevent Christmas meltdowns. You can use the free printable Christmas meltdown plan printable.

Christmas Meltdown Printable

Like all the printables available for the 12 Days of Free Christmas Printable Activities, this is a gift for email subscribers. So fill in your information in the box. You are welcome to unsubscribe at any time, but I bet you’ll want to stick around.

Here is how to use this printable.

  • Print the printable.
  • Grab some crayons or markers.
  • Set aside 10 minutes to talk about it with your child.
  • Practice the strategy your child chooses when your child is calm.

Then you need to pay attention to signs of overwhelm during the holidays and encourage your child to try their strategy.

Look for the beginning signs of stress in your child – don’t wait for a full-blown meltdown.

Want to save time? Grab all of the 12 Days of Christmas Printables now.

Reassessing the Meltdown Plan

This is where the real magic occurs.  When the meltdown plan doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean it was a total failure.

It means you found one strategy that isn’t working.

So then you can try to:

  • readjust how your child uses the strategy
  • practice it more when your child is calm
  • choose a different strategy

When a meltdown happens, it provides you the opportunity to have a conversation with your child.  Through these conversations, your child will learn self-regulation.

In your discussion, make sure to:

  • help your child identify the trigger
  • stay neutral about the behavior to avoid shame (your child already knows it was bad)
  • focus on generating possible solutions

Your child’s meltdowns are a normal part of development. These important conversations will build the skills that your child needs to be an emotionally healthy adult.

Christmas with Autistic and ADHD Children

If you have children with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety, or high sensitivity, your child is going to need more support to prepare for the inevitable meltdowns.

Both my older two children are neurodivergent and these are the tools that help us the most:

Sensory Supports

Both my bigger children wear headphones to events with music or a lot of people.

Fidgets help them release some of their nervous energy or excitement. Pop It’s have been really helpful.

Using simple sand timers can show your child how much time will pass until an activity begins or ends.

Visual Schedules

A visual schedule is really just a to-do list or a calendar for kids. It helps your child understand what will happen.

Write a simple list and add a stick figure drawing. Make it brief like:

  • Go to Grandma’s
  • Open gifts
  • Play with new toys
  • Eat dinner
  • Go home

When your sensitive or neurodivergent child knows what to expect, it helps avoid the surprises that can trigger meltdowns.

Keep it Simple

I’ve learned the hard way – be selective with your Christmas activities. If we’re going to see Santa, that will be our only event for the weekend.

We cannot cram our days full of activities – it’s stressful and not enjoyable for anyone. So find simple traditions that your neurodivergent child can enjoy.

More Support for Christmas Meltdowns

While this simple Christmas Meltdown plan will be effective for a lot of children, many will need more support.

Here are four additional resources:

1 – Social-Emotional Learning at Home Printable Pack

Learning to regulate emotions starts with learning to name them and then understanding how the body feels. The Social-Emotional Learning at Home Printable Pack has all the tools you need to help your child learn to get calm.

2 – I Can Handle Special Occasions

The book I Can Handle Special Occasions helps children understand emotions during holidays and use the positive self-talk “I Can Handle It” to regulate.

The original book I Can Handle It is also really helpful for teaching children to self-regulate with a mantra.

3 – Raising Human Beings

Raising Human Beings is the first I recommend to all parents. Teaching your children to self-regulate comes from a place of collaboration not shame.

This book lays it out for busy parents.

4 – The Whole-Brain Child

There’s so much misconception that children misbehave because of poor parenting. In fact, most children misbehave because their brain isn’t mature yet.

The Whole-Brain Child helps parents understand the brain and strategies to get children regulated.

5 – Social Stories

A social story is a short story that teaches a common social practice to your child. It has illustrations along with words to show your child what to expect in a social situation.

And Next Comes L has a free social story about seeing Santa. You can also check out the complete collection of social stories here.


Holiday Meltdowns happen. You can prevent or minimize the tantrum by being proactive with your child.

Try to readjust your perspective that is an opportunity you can leverage to teach your child valuable life skills.

Grab the printable and then check out the rest of the 12 Days of Free Christmas Printable Activities.


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