Since it is difficult for the parents to assess how the change is going to affect themselves, projecting that for their children is not only challenging but it must be evaluated, and discussed, frequently after the changes have occurred.
Some of the circumstances that have challenged our parents in the last several months:
1. Both parents simultaneously moving on to more demanding career responsibilities that included longer hours.
2. A new baby in the family.
3. An older sibling moving on from the daycare to elementary school.
4. A relocation from the east coast where both parents had a large support system to L.A. with no extended family or close friends.
5. A parent going back to work at the same time as the child joins our daycare.
6. The death of a loving nanny who had been a member of the family since the children were born.
In every case, the children in our care displayed clear emotional and sometimes physical and relationship changes.
-They cried more easily.
-Had difficulty falling asleep at naptime.
-Preferred to be with us rather than playing with their friends.
-Expressed a need for more attention when completing tasks they had normally performed easily and willingly.
-Displayed some regression in areas they had perfected such as bathroom habit, academic skills and conflict resolution.
These are the suggestions we offered each of these families.
1. Change the rules or your expectations of your child including values and behavior standards. Continuity is critical and boundaries need to be maintained.
2. Feel sorry for them. They are a critical part of your family and whatever decisions were made, it was with their interest in mind also.
3. Be inconsistent when they are showing anxiety about anything they miss. Acknowledge their feeling and then move on to some advantages they now have.
4. Feel guilty about the change it is done!
1. Give them new responsibilities specifically related to their new situation. It will help them feel more involved and in control.
2. Have a dialogue with them when you see unusual behavior. Resist the urge to defend the change but instead focus on a positive fact about it.
3. Put their needs before yours.
4. Be patient. They will not move from negative/lost feelings to happy ones instantly. Just like they cannot move from angry to sorry in five minutes.
5. Trust their resilience and intelligence and flexibility. They are survivors and probably will emerge more mature and stronger if that is your goal and what you expect and communicate.
You can turn every new experience into positive growth!