I am in two minds with this question. On the one hand I am a big believer that building resilience in a child is not sheltering them for any unpleasant emotions, but rather letting them have life experiences in the safe environment of the family support unit, so they learn how to cope when/if life throws them a curve ball.
But I also know that change or rather too much change too quickly can send even the calmest most mature child into a tailspin.
Now does this level of change get easier if a child is older or harder?
In our house, the answer to this question has become quite apparent over the past fortnight.
We are moving and my energetic, rambunctious but equally very emotionally mature eldest child is no longer sure in environments she was previously very confident and independent.
Drop-off is no longer the easy unpack and kiss goodbye. There are not tears but a strong desire for me to stay- for me, an obvious sign that the stability my child felt is a little wobbly at the moment.
Equally co-curricular activities that have been enjoyed and looked forward to are now the opposite. If I were not someone who reflected (almost to my detriment) then I possibly would have put this down to moodiness or defiance, as we are talking a very strong willed little girl.
But it is more than that.
The level of change has now shifted from being the ‘adventure’ it was initially, to affecting Miss Four’s day to day and it may be a while before this stability may be completely returned.
So how, in the mean time, do I support her through this period, when I too am frazzled and unsure?
1. I make a concerted effort to keep stability where possible. Bedtime routine I am trying to keep as normal as possible, bedroom items like night lights, pillows, special toys we have set-up to keep some level of normality.
2. I also need to remind myself to be patient. Change can unsettle kids so much and I know this from the classroom environment where I have seen a child’s personality shift significantly just by a change in their home environment. So when drop-off takes a little longer then that’s ok for the next little while. A little extra nurturing might be just what Miss Four needs for the time being.
I think the fact that Miss Four is old enough to comprehend what is going on has actually meant that she is less flexible than Mr. Two. and found moving much harder. I guess as we get older we do find it harder to accept change and kids are perhaps the same.
Old-dog-new-tricks seems to ring true here. But so does ‘What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger’. Now, I may not use this saying with Miss Four just yet but I do remind her daily, when she becomes unsure about moving, that the reason she loves her house is because her family are there with her. So it doesn’t matter where we live as long as we are all together. Home is where we, as a family, make it.
So if you’re moving or planning too and the kids go a bit wayward, be patient and think about what stability you can keep to help them get through the period of change.
Your hands-on helper,