12/19/2013 05:25 pm ET Updated Feb 17, 2014

Holiday Meltdowns Are Not Inevitable: Here's One You and Your Children Can Escape

One stress that can be avoided during the holidays is children's disappointment at not getting the one present they've been hoping for. If you know for sure that your child is not going to receive the gift she has her heart set on, have a conversation about that before the holiday.

It's important to validate children's feelings about what they're longing for. After all, we've all wanted things that we can't have for one reason or another -- but it's also helpful to tell them the truth ahead of time. Saying something like, "I know you want that but you're not going to be getting it this year," helps children manage their expectations and learn the crucial skill of coping with disappointment. It can also lead to important discussions about why that particular gift isn't going to appear. Your reasons may range from cost ("It's just too expensive.") to values ("We don't think this toy is good for you, because...") to any number of issues.

Days of anticipation and the flurry of opening presents can be overwhelming, especially for young children. Helping them manage their expectations will also help them, and you, avoid unpleasant meltdowns during what is supposed to be a fun and exciting experience.

For more tips on a peaceful and enjoyable holiday with children, check out Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood's Guide to Commercial-Free Holidays.