Navigating different social scenarios can be tough for kids, especially around the holidays. With all of the school pageants, family events, and holiday parties, this time of year can be stressful for kids (and mom and dad!). It can be difficult for kids to be around strangers or even family members they rarely see.

The holiday party season is a great time to talk to your children about the strength of “social intelligence”; knowing how to comfortably fit into different social situations. Talk to them ahead of each event. Let them know who will be there, how long you plan to stay, and what to expect. Point out their other strengths (humor, curiosity, bravery) and discuss how they may use those to navigate different scenarios. Be mindful of your child’s personality. They may be “the life of the party” and be very comfortable in large groups or they may be shy and more reserved in these settings. Being the familiar face and helping set them at ease is important.

The holidays should be a time to celebrate and enjoy your time together. A little thoughtful planning, mindful awareness, and focus on strengths can help everyone enjoy the festivities.