"Be a good kid and you might just be rewarded with an angpow"
Every parent would know that traveling and house visiting with young kids is always a challenge especially when they are in their terrible twos. Not quite fluent in speech and expressing themselves yet, these little cuties are packed filled with energy, curiosity and independence.
Often times before I became a parent myself, I would cringe every Chinese New Year when I saw young kids misbehaving, grabbing food, or spilling their drinks and throwing tantrums.
Of course I can understand messy accidents which are a norm. But when overtired and overstimulated kids throw tantrums, chances are it could turn really ugly.
As Chinese New Year is the biggest annual celebration for the Chinese, most families would try to visit as many friends and relatives as they can on the first two days. So it is not uncommon for big family Chinese New Year house to house visits to run long.
#1 Squeeze in Power Naps
Try to plan and route your visits. This is not always possible, but try to keep within your set time. Do bear in mind when your kids would be most tired and may require a power nap in the car. You can plan your furthest destination then, so they can sneak a rest. Kids are generally a lot more manageable when they are well rested.
#2 Create a Diversion
I actually carry a backpack filled with activity books, stickers, colour pencils and small toys. My backpack has been dubbed the Doraemon bag among close friends, because it can magically produce all sorts to keep the kids busy.
Of course it would be good to train them to listen and try to engage with play or speech with other relatives or kids their age, but toddlers don’t really have the attention span to do so.
Pack a few things they can do and only whip them out if there is real need for them. Better to have something on hand than have nothing to keep them entertained – after all, not every house you visit will be equipped with kids toys.
Take turns! Do the teamwork – I cannot stress this enough. Please work together so that both of you can have a chance to mingle with friends, family and relatives. Do not leave everything to one spouse to handle at every house. It is not fair and would just end up stressing one party out. If one of your kids is having a meltdown, offer to keep an eye on the other so that your spouse can handle the crying child without worry.
#4 Take Them To a Quiet Corner
Stay calm during the tantrum. Take them to a corner and away from the situation/people and try to calm them down. If you’re upset or lose your temper it can make it worse for your toddler. It is better to have some privacy if you need to reprimand or to give a warning instead of putting the child on the spot. If your child is throwing a hissy fit, ask your host if you could take your child for a walk outside in their compound until they can calm down. This offers your child some distraction, and other guests can also continue to mingle without any loud shrieking and interruptions.
# 5 Prep Talk
If you’re dealing with an older toddler, it is good practice to prep talk them before the visits. It is a gentle reminder for them:
- to be polite
- to be on their best behaviour
- NOT to open angpows at all and to pass them directly to you for safe keeping. They can have a peek in the car later
- NOT to put back food that they had already touched
- to refrain from running around and climbing as they please.
If all else fails you could bait/negotiating with them (if they understand).
“Be a good kid and you might just be rewarded with an angpow”
I seldom want to resort to setting expectations and bribes, but at the end of a long tiring day – sometimes that would just have to do. Hey, I’m just keeping it real!