Dec 10

With the parties, family dinners, gift shopping, and travels, the holidays are the busiest time of the year for many families. Children are adjusting to vast amounts of free times, while parents often have a growing to do list. Of course, the holidays are also a time for families to engage in annual traditions and have more time just being together. Expat families have the additional experience of incorporating holidays from their country with the holiday traditions of their new home. Many expat families in the Netherlands, for example, creatively intertwine Christmas celebrations with traditions of Sinterklaas. Overall, the holiday season is a balance of changing schedules, various events, and blending cultures. Here are our tips on how to successfully balance these changes and prepare for your family’s holidays this year.


  1. Create and establish your own traditions. Blending your home country and your current country’s traditions is a great opportunity to also create your own way of celebrating within your family. Have your children help with suggestions to increase their interest in the celebrations. Also, by teaching your children about holidays celebrated by different cultures, you will be strengthening their open-mindedness and understanding of diversity.
  2. Choose hands-on activities for your children to participate in during free time. By leading a structured and hands-on activity, your child will be more likely to follow through with the entire project. It can be especially helpful to have visual directions of the project (written or pictures).
  3. Choose activities based on your child’s interests. The more you can capture your child’s attention to the task, the longer they will sustain it. Here are some cool science activities for those who enjoy experiments!
  4. Involve the whole family in gift giving. Use the holiday season as a means to bring the whole family together to make gifts for friends and other family members. Creative children will enjoy seeing their ideas come to life. Here are some great holiday craft ideas and more!
  5. Traveling with children. The best way to have successful traveling with young children or children with disabilities is to plan, prepare and practice. Here’s our blog post on how to best prepare for traveling and how to avoid travel meltdowns.
  6. Structure each day. Every day during the holiday season can be a different schedule. This can be difficult for some children (and some adults), so it’s a good idea to take some time at the beginning of each day to organize what the day will look like. Create a visual schedule with your children and ask them for ideas on how to fill the day (you can use the images below to create your own visual schedule) The schedule should be a mix of things they have to do (i.e. eat dinner with family) and things they choose to do (play outside in the snow). It’s also a good idea to make time frames for each activity. Remember to give a 5-minute reminder before switching activities to help reduce transition stress.
    PECS holiday
  1. Use social stories for new and challenging activities. You can create your own social story, or use the examples below to prime your child on what to expect and how they should behave.
    winter break social story celebrating social story


Happy Holidays from Aspire ABA Center!


Interested in receiving workshops, or professional, customized ABA services for your family in the home, after-school program or at the (International) school in Europe? Our BCBA and staff will help with behavior challenges, developmental delays, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Disorders, ADHD or related disorders. Contact Aspire- ABA Center Europe (ACE) at


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