By: Gretchen Petersen, Chief Operating Officer
Typically, kids thrive in an environment that is predictable and consistent, opposite of how this school year has gone and the future months will be. How do we help them adapt, survive, and accept that change is part of life, something that there will be more or less of at different times? Helping them focus on consistencies in life and finding things that they DO have control over, are good places to start.
Consistencies can come in many different forms. From people to places to processes, there are consistencies everywhere. Identifying reliable people to reach out to when they’re feeling overwhelmed could help them feel supported. Choosing places they can go to in their time of need or just to relax could help them feel secure. Having a schedule, even on the weekends and summertime, could help them feel grounded. Even having a mental picture, or talking, drawing, or journaling about these stabilities could benefit kids in an unpredictable world. Because, let’s face it, consistency is a relative term as those things that are consistent are still apt to change, sometimes.
A sense of control in times of change is incredibly important. Giving options to kids can help them have some influence over parts of their lives, even if they are small choices. For example, asking a child to clean up their room either now or in a half hour is a choice they can make and feel like they have a voice. Allowing them to be part of a family decision can add to their self esteem and make the process of a change seem less anxiety provoking. Pointing out different activities they participate in and behaviors they exhibit that are under their control can help them realize how much power they possess each day.
Consistency and control contribute to a sense of well-being, especially in times of ambiguity. Keeping communication open with children, helping them identify stabilities and allowing them to have input in decisions can only aid in their ability to manage change in times of uncertainty.