Feeling secure is good for kids. When children can count on family life to have routines, it helps create a sense of security. Even the word ‘familiar’ makes us think of family routines that are well-known and understood. They set the groundwork for healthy development.
But of course, not every day will be exactly the same. Things sometimes change. And for some children and adolescents, too many changes, particularly to special occasions, are hard to cope with. So what happens when those special occasions aren’t going to be quite the same? Whether it’s because of COVID-19, or some other reason, sometimes even long-awaited special events need to be different to what was originally planned.
SUPPORTING WELLBEING BY HELPING KIDS FEEL SECURE
A child or teenager dealing with changes they don’t expect may feel anxious or sad. They may even be angry or disruptive. They may not understand why adults are acting differently, such as speaking harshly because they are stressed. Children may wonder if it’s their fault. If this continues, life can start to seem unpredictable. A sense of uncertainty can creep in.
No matter what else changes, the ultimate sense of security for children is based on knowing they are loved and valued. Showing this through words and actions is more important than ever right now. If possible, it’s best done in-person and face to face so that your child can use all of their available senses when connecting with you.
Keeping to normal life and routines as much as possible helps children and teenagers feel connected to you and rooted in family life. This prepares them to accept that even though some things may change, plenty of things stay the same. It’s a bit like being able to grab onto a handrail when a bus or train starts moving – having that fixed support helps maintain balance, should things take an unexpected turn.
EMOTIONAL WELLBEING IS SUPPORTED BY SIMPLE FAMILY TRADITIONS
At this time of year, your family’s unique traditions help evoke a sense of constancy and the patterns and rhythms of life that brings comfort and inspires hope. You may have your own religious or cultural traditions. You may like certain music, or movies. Maybe you have favorite sayings that everyone chimes in on. Some like to go for a weekly or daily walk. You could have a talent night or ‘what I like about you’ jar, where a note is placed every day and read aloud each month.
You can build upon these traditions and create new ones that convey a sense that the family can adapt and grow and get stronger even during these difficult times. This is a hallmark of family resilience.
Talking and laughing together also builds social skills. Another way to create time for this is by doing cooking or craft together, even if it doesn’t turn out exactly like the pictures said it would!
All this is important because positive moments remind children that they’re in a safe, loving family environment. It’s just one example of how parents and caregivers have the power to help support children’s and teenagers’ physical, emotional, social, and behavioral development. The ability to manage emotions, cope with changes, and get along with others can all be encouraged by positive parenting.
CONFIDENCE TO COPE WITH CHANGES
Though routines and traditions matter, understanding how to adapt and be flexible is important. Things may be a bit different this year. Children can cope better with changes when they know beforehand what will be different, and what will stay the same. When older children and teenagers feel like they have some say in what’s happening, this helps them feel less stressed and improves their coping skills. This can be supported by involving them, if possible, in constructive, problem-solving discussions about how to manage changes.
USING YOUR KNOWLEDGE
You can use positive parenting within your own family. You can do this in a way that will work best for you. It works at any time of year, not just right now.
Positive skills and ideas like these make it easier to cope with change and uncertainty. They also help you feel confident you’re supporting your child. You’re also taking important steps to promote their resilience and emotional wellbeing.
To learn more about child development and how you can support it with positive parenting skills and strategies, try a Triple P program such as Triple P Online, or other programs that may be available in your region.