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1. Leave babies and toddlers at homeLive fireworks can cause "unnecessary stress" for children under five years old, Greenberg said, especially if they're pre-verbal and won't understand the reason for the "loud, unpredictable sounds, bright lights and crowds." However, these are merely "developmental guidelines," and if your preschooler would love the spectacle, it's fine to bring them along.
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2. Discuss the event beforehand
“Generally, kids are less anxious when they know what to expect,” Greenberg said. Explain how fireworks operate — "pretty lights" followed by a booming sound — and describe your viewing location, including how long it'll take to get there and how many other people might be present.You can also prepare your child by watching a movie or YouTube clip of fireworks together at home. If possible, find videos of past versions of the show you'll be attending.
It's OK for your teen to be online. Online relationships are part of typical adolescent development. Social media can support teens as they explore and discover more about themselves and their place in the grown-up world. Just be sure your teen is behaving appropriately in both the real and online worlds. Many teens need to be reminded that a platform's privacy settings do not make things actually "private" and that images, thoughts, and behaviors teens share online will instantly become a part of their digital footprint indefinitely. Keep lines of communication open and let them know you're there if they have questions or concerns.
3. Pick a family-friendly spot
Consider local beaches or schools where other families will be gathered, Greenberg suggested, as observing other children's reactions will help your little ones settle in. "If the other kids are calm, they’re likely to think, ‘Oh, it’s OK to be here,’” she said.
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4. Bring earplugs and a comforting object
Pack your child's special toy or blanket to help them adjust to the new environment, Greenberg said, and a pair of earplugs in case the noise is upsetting.
5. Take their fears seriously
“Nobody gets over a fear by being told that they’re being silly or childish, or by [someone] saying, ‘Look at your brother, how comfortable he is,’" Greenberg pointed out. Instead of invalidating or joking about your child's anxiety, stay close by and coach them through each firework until they start to understand the pattern.
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6. Keep your own anxieties under control“Calm is contagious,” Greenberg explained. "If you’re a parent and you have a lot of anxiety about fireworks, kids are going to pick up on that." Try to model the relaxed attitude you'd like to see in your child.
Role model good manners at all times and ask for them in return. Good manners often diffuse conflict situations.
7. Have a back-up plan
If the live fireworks are making your child miserable, there's no need to tough it out. Arrange for a responsible adult such as your partner or friend to take them home, where they can watch the display on TV with the sound off.
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This story was originally published in 2016.