Change is in the Wind
It is no secret, children crave security, stability and routine. When they have a general idea of what each day will hold, when there is some kind of familiar pattern or rhythm to each week, they can relax their internal selves and respond with proper behavior and a more relaxed approach to life. BUT… life brings change. It is absolutely inevitable. You grow out of your crib, mom and dad decide to have a baby, nanny moves on and another nanny comes in, school starts, you start driving and suddenly it is time for college. So how can we as parents help our children not only navigate change, but actually begin to embrace it? So whether you are ready to move your precious baby to their toddler bed, or buy everything in the dorm section of Bed, Bath and Beyond and drop your precious baby at college, here are some ways to help with the change.
1. Children take their cues from us. If we are excited, upbeat and positive about moving to the big kid bed, then they will start to feed off of that energy. If we are sad, mopey, weepy and having a hard time adjusting to our child growing up, they will feed off of that. It is a great idea to keep a positive perspective while letting your children know how you feel about the changes. “This is exciting, mommy and daddy are so proud of you and we are really looking forward to all that comes with growing up. You get big kid sheets, big kid curtains but look, your lovie is still right here with you. And mommy and daddy are always going to be right here for you.” (See what I just did there? That sentence can apply to either situation. Pretty clever right?)
2. Listen to how they feel Really listen. Give them a chance to tell you their thoughts. Don’t necessarily feel like you have to step in and fix their thoughts. This can be really hard when we want to help them adjust, we sometimes have the tendency to tell them how they should be feeling, or we try to minimize something important to them. Just listen. If that little guy tells you he is scared there are monsters under his big boy bed or that soon to be college freshman is scared there are monsters in the dorm, just listen. So let them share their feelings or thoughts. Encourage them. You can come back and have other discussions later in helping them work through issues, but for just that moment, listen and encourage them. They need to know that you believe they can handle this big change.
3. Let them have some choice! Whether it is picking their bed set for their big kid bed or picking their bed set for their college dorm room, no matter what your personal preference is, try to let them be a part of the decision making process. The truth is, sometimes change will involve things that children just really don’t have a say so in. Part of our job as parents, nannies, caregivers of all sorts, is to help them navigate the times that life throws change they can’t control. But when it is possible, let them have a little say in the process.