My kid will be seeing relatives for the first time. Should I be concerned about heightened stranger anxiety? How do I deal with it?Anonymous
Even absent a pandemic, kids vary a lot in their stranger anxiety. And it doesn’t always correlate with what you’d think! Kids who are in child care may have less anxiety, or more. Much of it is personality, which may also change over time. On top of this, it isn’t clear what being concerned would help at this stage. Maybe your kid will love Uncle Chuck and his weird mustache or maybe he will not, but he’s going to meet Uncle Chuck regardless.
This reminds me, however, of a lesson that seems crucial for the holidays with infants and toddlers and even older kids. There is often a lot of family pressure to have children play a certain role. Pressure for the infant to stay up late and entertain grandma. Pressure for the baby to be friendly and happy to be held by any random relative. Pressure for the toddler to be adorable and wave on command. Pressure for the 10-year-old to play with her aunt rather than read in her room.
You cannot avoid all of this. What you can do is remember that kids are people too, and that you do not have to perform with them. If it is bedtime for your infant, it’s bedtime. Even if there are still ornaments to be hung or the baby doesn’t “look tired.” If your kid wants to take a break to read in their room, that is a choice they should at least sometimes be able to make.
This is a good lesson to adopt as a parent, holiday or no.