Today I was going to expand on the topic of changes, but due to a friends blog i thought I’d also add in a bit about parenting guilt.
Every parent at some point will feel that they are not doing enough for their children, that their chidlren dont love us or appreciate what we do and sacrifice. As difficult as it is to see that we must remember that young children are egocentric by nature, it is not until they hit a level of maturity that they can begin to appreciate these things. Unfortunately fo us as parents very soon after this maturity nhappens they hit teenagerdom and revert to egocentricity with added sulk and grunt, they loose the ability to communicate with adults and either push so hard against boundaries that some break or they ignore everything and you break. Think back, which did you do…honestly! I think i was a boundary pusher, drove my parents mad, staying out all night and not contacting them, wanting to get married at 16 (they didnt allow this), disappearing for a few days at a time, then rolling in as if nothing had happened. Any way, the moral of the story is to try and accept the children we have, they are given to us to test us in many many ways, and test us they will, but remaining calm and not letting them see that they are pushing our buttons will help you through the day. And very occassionaly you will see something that show us that they do care, that is even true for children with disabilities, the signs may be more subtle but will mean the same thing and when you see it your heart will melt. Keep up the good work parents every where, children need us.
Now for the ‘changes’ bit.
As parents we try to do what we can to keep our children safe and happy, makes our lives easier any way. We do this by using routines to structure the day. this helps the children know what to expect now and next, and when they will have the time to do what they want. But then there are sudden changes that threaten to disrupt your happy harmony; the car breaks down, the school/nursery is closed, illness, and many other unforseen events. These are the most difficult for young children to understand and they will start with the “Why?” questions, not to irritate you but to find answers. The trick is to remain calm, explain what has happened and why if you can. Always remings the child that normal service will ressume. “I understand that you are upset that we are going to be late getting to Joe’s party, but the car has stopped working so I cant drive you there. I have called the man he is coming to fix it and as soon as its ready we can go to the party.” or “I know you wanted to go swimming today, it’s saturday we always go swimmin on saturday, but this week your brother is really poorly and cant go. I’ll call Bobbies mum and ask if she can take you today”
Acknowledge, explain, solution.
As children get older this still works but there will need to be more negotiating as well.
Not all changes are unexpected though, moving house, new baby, holiday, new car are all events that can be planned for. As with most tings in life preparation is the key here, talk about things with children once you are sure they will happen, prepare them with lots of positive reassurances. “In the new house you will have your own bedroom, what colour would you like it to be?” “Our new car wont break down as often so you wont be late for any more parties.” If it a choice you have made you will be able to find the positives to help your children.
I began this section talking about routines, and how messing with them can be difficult for children. Using routines can also help with understanding changes. Use a calendar or diary to show when the change will happen so the children are aware of it. Use books that tell stories of a similar thing happening to the characters. Children with a good routine that allows for flexibility will find accepting changes easier and less traumatic. Children with no fixed routine, may find the changes too much to handle as they will have developed their own routines with out your knowledge.
have fun with your children, and I’ll be back with more tomorrow, let me know if you want anything discussed.