Can you see it coming? It’s Boxing Day morning. Tired kids emerge from bedrooms with half-baked disoriented looks on their faces resembling the hangover some parents may be carrying. They are most likely suffering from D.A.G.S. = Day After Gifts Syndrome.

The day before was an emotional high. It was all the Christmas gift ‘Yay’s!’ and ‘Ohhh’s’ mixed in with a lack of sleep, the emotional flurry of spending time with others, possible travel and let’s not forget sugar consumption high enough to give a guinea pig a cardiac arrest.

Often times, you as parents, have spent countless hours preparing for the big day. You worked, saved, shopped, wrapped, cooked, phoned, cleaned and built expectation for your child(ren). So what’s with the attitude the next day? Where is the gratitude? What’s wrong with them? Well, we have some good news and bad news.

The bad news is, if you have young children, D.A.G.S. is likely to happen. The good news is, we parents can keep our cool without threatening our beloved offspring with extreme vows of, “That’s it! You’re getting crap-all for Christmas next year!” So here are three practical keys to dealing with D.A.G.S.

1. Recognise what is going on.
Prepare mentally for the D.A.G.S. If you can keep the day after low-key and low-commitment, do that. Don’t be surprised if the kids seem ungrateful, overwhelmed or tired. THEY WILL BE! If you keep them too busy, too high on sweets and too stimulated you will just prolong the D.A.G.S. and it’ll compound into something worse.

2. Respond like an adult
Avoid shaming, blaming or guilting the kids for their attitude or demeanour. Set an example of someone who can deal with D.A.G.S. and them. Empathise with your kids. Maybe sit down and recall with them times you felt the same way. Let them know you’re not surprised. ‘Calm equals smart’ is the mantra to move forward with. They need relationships that invoke peace and joy. Which leads to the next point.

3. Return to joy quickly.
Joy and recovery expert Dr Jim Wilder says, “Our ability to quiet ourselves quickly during emotional upset and return to joy is the strongest indicator of emotional health.” This is where we, as the parent, get to demonstrate what emotional health looks like. Everyone wakes up cranky? You wake up and find some joy through reflection, gratitude, and connection to others who are happy to be with you. And joy doesn’t mean we are all having fun and laughing. Joy gives us the strength to do hard things and endure hardships well.

So there you have 3 simple and intentional things you can do to deal with D.A.G.S.

From our home to yours, may God bless you this holiday and Christmas season.

David and Natalie Tensen