If there is one thing that all of us seem to struggle with it is change. There is something about the comfortable feeling that comes with consistency that just seems to make life easier.
Change is the reason that we work so hard to establish a consistent routine for the children that we care for. They draw comfort from knowing that after free play the toys are picked up and then we go to the bathroom before we go outside to play, etc. They like to know what happens next in their lives. Think about your daily schedule. You might be someone who makes a list to start each day, or maybe you just start each day with a general idea of what your schedule or tasks will be. But our children just follow us as we tell them what is happening next. By giving them a general sense of what their day might bring, we help to lower their anxiety about what lies ahead.
To help you empathize with the mind of your children, just think about the last time you had to change jobs or move into a new house or apartment. That is the type of anxiety that our children feel most of the time.
On the flip side, some parents tell their children so much about what changes are coming, (i.e. leaving for vacations, grandparent visits) that the child’s anxiety raises to a higher level than usual. One rule of thumb that always seems to be effective with children is to let them lead the way with their own questions. Try to only give them the amount of information that they seem interested in. This is going to vary a great deal from child to child, so the challenge will be, how well do we know our children and how much information is the right amount.
Routine is probably the best tool to help your child feel comfortable about their day. But when faced with changes in their schedules or their lives, remember to ease them into it by giving them as much information as they seem to need.