September 23, 2011

Handling Changes

This is an article I wrote for my school's news letter.       
As a new school year starts, there are bound to be changes to our schedules, our lives, our habits, and our emotions.
It will probably take some time for adjustment and for a routine to develop that the family is comfortable with.
I have found over the years that sometimes we are not aware how important predictability is to our children.  If you are doubting what I’m saying, think about what might happen if you drive a different route to school or forget your tie (does anyone wear ties anymore to work?) or drink coffee out of a different cup or heaven forbid buy it from a different store!?
So what can we do to help our children?
Try really hard to develop a routine especially for the mornings and at bedtime.
NOTE: When there are many family members including siblings, an exact time of things can feel impossible and may often be.  Seth misses his bus so you are now a taxi finding the quickest, shortest route with Miss GPS’s help-maybe--- in order to get everyone else where they need to be on time. 
Chances are on those days you aren’t merrily singing Polly Wally Doodle All Day, (but then again, you might be one of those exceptional families who will take every opportunity to create lasting memories…). 

If however you are not, just know Mama said there’d be days like this and get back on track the next day.  (It might help to recount where the glitch happened to avoid it again if at all possible.)
Try however, to establish a basic idea of what will be happening for these daily rituals.
On the other hand, being too rigid about time frames can create stress of a different source.
I know, make up your mind Reyna!    

But that’s parenting for you.   
Basically, it’s guidelines with room for personal interpretation.  Welcome to parenthood!
Anyway, back to my main point.  When changes happen as they will-for that is life in motion- keep as many of your regular habits as realistic.  Something as simple as not having their favorite breakfast bowl can cause turmoil for some children.  Also things we might not think, such as the opposite parent bringing the child to school when he/she usually doesn’t, can cause stress.  For some children this will be a treat, for others, chaos.  Learn to understand your child’s preferences.
A break in the family dynamic, like a parent traveling or company in the home can also uproot a child’s sense of security.  These things are also helpful to share with a teacher so they then can be aware of any sensitivities that might manifest itself in our children.
Although children may seem too young to really care, in general they like to know what to expect (in condensed form, not the essay-way I used to present it).   
Tell them a basic outline of events.  If your child is uncomfortable with transitions, give 5 minute warnings/reminders that change will be happening, e.g. we will be leaving in 5 minutes so finish up what you are doing. 
For the most part, as time goes on, people will fall into place with the new changes and all will be well.
One last thing I would like to address is the emotional changes that happen for the parents (which I alluded to in the first sentence.)
Watching our children become the independent, confident children we hoped to raise (darn them) can cause our hearts to mourn.   Oh yes, on one hand we are beamingly satisfied with them going off into the classroom and finding an activity or friend to play with but they may hardly even notice we are saying our goodbyes and that might sting.  They are growing up and away in the tiniest steps. 

It is imperative that we acknowledge this.  
Both the fact that they are maturing and the fact that we may not quite be ready for it.   It is in a sense a loss of their total dependence on us to a new form of independence for them.  This of course is what we want (for it breaks our hearts more to know they were crying for us all day) nevertheless it is sometimes a hard stage to swallow.   
It is normal to feel this tug of emotions!
Know they will always be your child and will need you to be their parent.  The only difference will be in how it manifests itself.  So, advise for parents is to develop a new habit/ routine for yourself that you do for yourself while your most prized gift is doing exactly what he is supposed to because you did your job exactly how you should have!
Have a wonderful year!                                                                                  

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