Nurturing all family members Part 2
Time activities carefully
If we want our children to accompany us, so that we can shop or visit somebody, we need to be aware of our children’s individual needs for sleep, nourishment, exercise, comfort, stimulation and so on. Eg. Going to the supermarket with several children who are either hungry, tired or very upset, is going to be very challenging. If a child has been sitting for a while, he will need to jump and run around, for a while afterwards. Transition times need to be organised between activities, so that children can settle in to a new activity. We can’t expect children to suddenly change to a new experience, without preparation and some adjustment time.
Having a routine enables family members to feel greater security, predictability and safety. It is easier for all family members, and will lessen the number of emotional upsets. Of course, flexibility is important too, so we needn’t be too rigid with the routine, but use it as a daily guide. We can work out approximate meal times, snack times and bed times, and later add in things such as TV times, clean up times, getting ready for school times , after school activity sessions, and so on.
Adaptation time needs to be allowed for
When our children are facing changes, we need to prepare them, by discussing what is going to happen, and actively listening to their concerns. We can answer their questions, and remain calm and positive. We can show them what is coming, with books, props and pictures etc. We can also allow them to experience the change, in short stints. Eg starting kinder or school
Answer questions honestly and simply
Honesty and reliability is very important, so that our children can trust us, and can more easily predict what will happen. Eg If we tell our children that we are going to get something out of the shed, and will be back in a few minutes, we need to stick to what we say. They will gradually learn time periods if we are consistent, and won’t fret too much when we leave, for a time. We need to expect honesty from our children, and give them the benefit of the doubt, rather than assuming dishonesty. Of course, evident dishonesty needs to be dealt with, by giving a reprimand and use of consequences (if necessary). We also need to be aware of Child Development stages. Children up until about 5 or 6 will make up stories, as answers for our questions. They are not lying until they have developed a conscience, and understand what truth means. Again, if we tell the truth, particularly when it is not easy to do so, our children are far more likely to do the same. The other people in our lives will also be more inclined to be honest, if we can act courageously in this way.
It is not helpful to over-protect our children. They need to learn to cope with problems and negativity. It is better for children to know what is going on, than to try to hide the information. We need to talk about positive ways to work through problems, and empathise with them, rather than pity them. They can also be encouraged to come up with ideas, for solving problems themselves. This will allow them to become resilient and confident.
Celebrate special occasions
Get-togethers for Birthdays, Christmas etc. are of great value for our children. They learn about giving and receiving gracefully, have lots of fun, build memories and have new experiences. They connect and bond with friends and relatives, and often go out somewhere new. They learn about the needs of others, which develops compassion and empathy.
Photos and favourite possessions can be stored carefully, and looked at in later years. They will provide much pleasure, and allow family and friends to reminisce the old times, and talk about these memories.
Maintain constructive rituals
Rituals allow children and adults to more easily manage certain times of each day, which can normally be quite difficult. Eg Bedtime, mealtimes, readying for school. We can repeat the successful steps each day, and provide consistency and predictability for all family members. These rituals provide security, and can be passed on to other carers, in the event that parents need, want or have to spend some time away from their offspring.
Consider appropriate home design
Family life can be made easier, if we can carefully consider home design, before building or buying a new home. Computers and TV’s can be supervised, if they are placed where adults spend a great deal of their time. Space, for active and messy play, both inside and out, needs to be provided for. Safety is paramount, and must be well thought-out for every room, as well as the whole yard, front and back. Fencing and shelving can be very useful, in this regard.
Institutional Care – points to consider
When we are in the process of deciding which day-care, pre-school, school etc. to send our child to, there are some important considerations. We need to get to know the carers extremely well, ask lots of relevant questions, and observe them closely interacting with children, and other adults. It’s wise to drop in unannounced, so that we get a feel for the atmosphere, and can get a more accurate and realistic observation. We also need to read any policies and information carefully, and get to know managers, principals and other pertinent staff.
When we are fairly sure of our choice, we need to spend time at the institution with our child. The younger the child, the more time we need to stay, so that he is comfortable and calm. During this time, it is important to listen carefully to the child, and answer her questions.
Before the child commences, it is essential that we prepare him, for what is going to happen. This includes answering any questions from our child, and asking him some of our own.
When we have decided on an institution, it is vital to keep up communication with the carer, teacher, director etc. and to be assertive if we have any concerns. The staff ought to know about any relevant information, such as changes at home, disabilities, home routines and rituals, illness, separation, allergies and intolerances, and so on.
Charts can be helpful to provide reminders to family members, and to aid in organisation.