New School Year Ahead! Preparing Your Child for Change: Being Proactive

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“I want to go to my new school!”, squeals my (almost) 3 year old. In a few short days she’ll be transitioning to a new daycare . My husband and I have been prepping her for this change for a couple months… and prepping ourselves as well. Due to multiple changes occurring within this month ahead (hello baby number 3, kindergarten here we come) we figured why not just throw in one more thing. Changes all around! No man left behind! Let’s go all in!


If you’ve read any of my most recent posts you understated that for me, change usually brings anxiety. But, we are not here to talk about anxiety today. I’m taking a break from anxiety for a while. Instead, I’m focusing on being proactive, positive, and peaceful. I’m keeping in mind that I can only control so much. The rest I must leave up to faith, hope, and trust. I have come to realize I really do know very very little about predicting the future. Psychic readings are not my calling. <huff>

Let’s take some time, shall we, to focus on these 3 “P” words: Proactive, Positive, and Peaceful. Given that there is much to be said on each one of these “P” words I am going to break it down to 3 separate posts over the next 3 weeks, which will be just in time for most of you as you get ready to send your kiddo off to a new school year. We’re going to start with the first, and most important, in my opinion –

Being Proactive:

Though I cannot know for certain how my children will adjust to their new schools, new friends, new teachers, new sibling, and all other things new, I can, however, prepare them for what to expect  (as best as I am able).

Let’s take my daughter for example. She has gone to the same daycare her whole life. This makes it difficult for my husband and I to move her somewhere new where she doesn’t know anyone. Somewhere new where we don’t know anyone. ** Now these two sentences here are important. Important because as parents we may have the tendency to project our feelings (anxiety or otherwise) onto our children. I may be feeling anxious, my husband may be feeling anxious, but my daughter, well that’s a maybe. All I know right now is she feels excited about going somewhere new. She likes new. She is an adventurous soul in this way. Me – not so much. All the more reason not to assume that I know how she’ll feel. I can know, with a little therapist background in my pocket, that preparing kids for changes is crucial no matter how fluidly they adapt to changes or not. We all like to know what’s ahead.

Proactive Prepping

So what is the best way to proactively prep your child for change? The number 1 rule I share with the parents I work work is:

Paint a Mental Picture for Your Child.
 

Not an actual picture, a mental picture. Children function through images. They develop understanding through seeing and doing as opposed to hearing. Learning through hearing is an acquired skill that develops more through development and growth. When children are young, they need to see and do in order to fully grasp ahold of a concept. This helps them feel empowered and in control.


With my daughter we’ve been driving by the school regularly, we made a visit to the school so she could see the classrooms, see the actual space she’ll be going to each day to play. This will help her feel a little safer when we return on her actual 1st day. Now, lucky for me I have the opportunity to bring her there for a trial morning in which she’ll get to return home with me after a couple hours versus a full day. To be honest, I’m not sure if this is more for my peace of mind or hers. Like I said, this is a change for everyone. I don’t know these people either!! I digress…. back to being proactive. If you don’t have the opportunity to physically see a change before it takes place, you can still very well assist your child in creating their mental picture. Most important is you want to speak your child’s language – play. Remember, they learn through seeing and doing.

Here are 3 simple ideas for how to do this:

  1. Draw a picture together
  2. Enact a scene using dolls and other toys.
  3. Dress up and act out a scene together of the first day.

How to get started:

  • Start out by reminding your child about the upcoming change.
  • Tell her that today you’re going to draw a picture/play a game together about the first day of school.
  • Allow her to select the materials to get started.
  • Ask questions along the way to help shape her mental picture, such as what will it look like, what colors will the room be, what will her teacher be like, what will she play with, what will she eat, etc. There are no limits really to how imaginative you can become. *It is important, though, that this picture be one grounded in reality. You want her mental picture to closely reflect what will actually happen.
  • Also helpful to include here is a play by play. “Mommy will bring you to school and walk you to your room where we’ll meet your new teacher. I’ll get you settled in your room then mommy will leave for work. After work I will come back to pick you up. I’ll be so excited to see and hear what you do on your first day!” Always great to end with something you can both look forward to.

All of these help shape your child’s understating of what will take place when this change occurs, aiding her in feeling masterful over what’s the come as opposed to feeling at the whim of the changing tides ahead.

Helping our children feel in control in a healthy way is the best way of preventing them to look for control in unhealthy ways. These little people deserve this help from us. And hey, you will likely find that it’s quite helpful for you as well!

I look forward to hearing how proactive prepping helps you and your child grow through change together. Please share. And come back next week for tips on a being a positive parent through change.

			

Going With The Flow: Accepting Change & Finding Peace

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My mind feels quieter lately, less disturbed, and much more calm these past couple of weeks. I have gone through a lot of ups and downs this pregnancy and I feel that I’m finally coming to a place of peace, which is somewhat ironic given that soon I won’t be pregnant at all, but instead will have the change of my new baby to grapple with. At which time I’m sure I’ll have a lot of newness to contend with, but for now, I feel calm, quiet, serene even as I enjoy these last few weeks of holding my baby inside.

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Confessions of a Screaming Mommy Part 2: Acknowledging Your Child’s Feelings (without neglecting your own)

Today we’ll file under the “no good, very bad day” category in parenting land. My soon to be 3 year old daughter is rounding the bend towards “independence” which easily translates as defiance. My least favorite toddler trait of all. Defiance by her usually leads to screaming by me – again. How does one get a strong willed child to cooperate? Well, the answer is clearly not “exert your parental power until she claims defeat”. Nope, lesson learned on that one. Eventually she might give in, or give up, but I’m the one who ends up apologizing. What’s the lesson in that? Certainly not what I was going for. Have to recalibrate my parenting map once again and set forth in the right direction. First thing: determine my destination…

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How’s your Summer going?

Okay Mamas, we are about four weeks into summer time here in Texas….

How’s your Summer going??

Hopefully you have had time to play at the pool, sleep in, maybe go see one of this summer’s great movies….

Mine, oh, thanks for wondering…..I am enjoying being able to sleep in a bit, having more time with my boys and more time to spend with friends. The boys enjoyed a couple camps to kick the summer off and now they are in the long haul at daycare when I am in the office. The movies this summer have us anxious for the next one and we love our long summer days playing in the pool. We are looking forward to our family vacation next week and the birth of my first nephew any day now. So far my summer is going pretty good! Continue reading

Preparing for Baby#3: Why it’s Nothing Like Before

32 weeks pregnant. I’m nearly finished brewing baby number 3 and yet I feel that I haven’t even fully grasped the concept that I have another life growing in me, a life soon to be living out in this world; In our home; In our family; In our lives, forever changed. The past 7 months feel like a blur of toddler taming, sibling refereeing, and kindergarten preparing. Who has time to think about swaddling a newborn amidst all that? I keep thinking I need to pull out my baby sleep manuals to refresh my baby mommy skills, but there it sits on the shelf covered in dust. I’m sure I’ll crack it open here soon. Maybe. Pregnancy the third time around is different, very different, and here’s why…

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Confessions of Screaming Mommy: 3 Steps to Regaining Control & Letting Go of “being in control”

Okay, you got me. I will be the first to admit that I am guilty, from time to time, of losing my temper and yelling at my kids. Okay, fine. Screaming at my kids, actually. I hate that I do it, it sucks when it happens, and I feel guilty for days following. Miserable, I tell you. Just miserable. Feeling this terrible about a behavior begs the question, “why don’t you just stop?” Well, just go ahead and make me sound like an addict, why don’t ya? Actually, maybe you’re onto something here….

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Dear Dads

Dads,

You are so important, so needed, so powerful in our lives. In this day and age many women want to say “I don’t need a man” well, maybe you don’t need one but do you want one? The roles of men and dads in our lives are sometimes overpowered by feminism. Don’t get me wrong here I am a feminist at heart but I also find space to see and honor the role of men in our lives.

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YOGA? Y.ou O.nly G.ott A.

Breathe. 

It is more than a little ironic that Yoga is the activity I turn to on a daily basis to cope with the ups and downs of being a parent.  The more I think about it, the more I realize YOGA is the perfect metaphor for parenting.

I can almost hear each reader’s audible ugh as I type this post. YOGA….

Ya either love it, hate it, OR BOTH. Some of you haven’t tried it yet. Some of you never will. Kind of sums up having children does it?

 I can’t recall exactly when my love affair with yoga began, but let me assure you; it definitely was NOT love at first sight. Truth be told, my first date with yoga TOTALLY sucked.

First of all, before the date even started, Yoga wanted me to be quiet-STRIKE 1- I like to talk. Correction: I LOOOVE talking. Besides, how are we going to know if we like each other if we don’t talk?

Our love connection was off to a very rocky start.

Next,  YOGA proceeded to tell me to “be still”Seriously? Who the hell does this YOGA think he is? Doesn’t he realize I’m a mom & dishes don’t wash themselves? I’ve got things to do.  Furthermore, when I am still…I start thinking. I think too much…waay toooo much.  Strike 2.

The final strike came when Yoga wanted me to set an intention.  An intention for what? Staying alive? Fine. My intention was pretty much to try  super hard not to throw up or pass out OR die a heaping hot sweaty mess in the middle of all of these toned and tan & oddly serene strangers.

Ok…you win YOGA. I intend to survive this class.

As it turns out, I not only survived the first date; I  came back for more. 

YOGA and I  proceeded to “date” on and off for the next  few years. We even broke up a few times (my decision), before I realized that I really missed it..and loved it….and NEEEEEEEEEEEDED IT.

So now we are back together…at least for the time being. 

 

Anyway, I digress. My point was to tell you how lessons learned in YOGA mirror that of my experience in parenting.

YOGA ASKS THAT WE: 

  • Show up. Most days, making it onto your mat is the hardest part.
  • Set an intention to guide your practice.  Intentions are unique and change on a daily basis depending on your child’s sugar intake & the amount of caffeine you have ingested.
    OOOOMMM…Why is this so hard?

    Today, I want my children to be responsible, compassionate, passionate about learning, and kind. Tomorrow I intend to not screw them up too much. By Wednesday, my intention is usually not to throw up, pass out or die trying.

  • Focus inward…. How does the vision I have of myself, others and the world shape my choices as a parent.  How am I reacting to their successes & failures?  What parts of my own childhood am I replicating or running from and why?
  • Rest. It is a sign of strength. I repeat..RESTING IS ALWAYS A SIGN OF STRENGTH, never a sign of weakness.
  • Be flexible. The more rigid you are, the more it’s gonna hurt.
  • Focus on small daily progress.  The practice doesn’t change. You do.
  • Don’t look around. When you do, you give your energy away. This is not a competition & comparisons are a not helpful.
  • Be present.  Looking behind or ahead only distracts you from making the most each moment.
  • BREATHE…You Only Gott A Breathe…When you feel like giving up (& you will want to), you only gotta breathe.  As long as you are breathing and staying present, you are doing it right.

Other lessons from “Yoga”…

  • You will never do it perfectly no matter how hard you try. In fact, you will often fall. You will  look super weird and awkward…crazy even.  The good news is, so does everybody else!
  • It sometimes feels like it will never end.
  • It’s crowded & sweaty….Everyone else is working hard too.
  • Everyone has an opinion about how to do it & people are really quick to point out that you are doing it wrong. Tell them to shut the * up and get back on their own mat. 
  • You mostly go it alone-unless you count the other awkward, hot sweaty messes around you.
  • You may or may not have a teacher. If you do, you are lucky. But keep in mind, he or she is just a guide. …She/He doesn’t have all the answers either.

Namaste…the sweaty hot mess in me honors the sweaty hot mess in you.

 

How Was Your Day? New & Improved

There a few things I would like to do with my carpool line sign.

None of which are appropriate for publishing on this blog. Those of you who have read my previous posts know how much I adore waiting in the sweltering hot sun (sans my cell phone) to pick up my little cherub.
 If you feel the way I do about carpool line, you might be planning to use your sign as kindling for a summer bonfire or for the environmentally conscious reader, recycle it....but don't do that just yet.

I have an idea that beats recycling it….but first, let’s talk about the one part of carpool I actually do enjoy: greeting my  sweet little man after a long day at school. 

Typically I ask the same standard question as he climbs into the back seat: “How Was Your Day?” Only to hear him mumble back the even more standard answer: “Good.”  

You know the drill… I continue to hopelessly probe with questions that usually end in “YES or NO”….and if your child is anything like mine, the token answer for “What did you learn at school today?” is “Nothing”.

NOTHING?? What??? REALLY???  I know for a fact that you learned A LOT today and I know that your teacher is amazing… So this answer is just not gonna fly with me today.

Back side of Carpool LIne sign
Front side of carpool line sign

After pondering the uber frustrating carpool phenomenon of “I did nothing today!”, I decided to change my approach for next year.  I have found a few more specific questions that I plan to have conveniently pasted on the back of the car pool sign, so I can get the real scoop about his day. Yes..some of the questions are gross…BUT you might actually learn A LOT by asking them.. Maybe even more than you bargained for.

If you aren’t crafty, (or don’t own a laminator), I have another suggestion that has helped me a time or two….

PITS AND PEAKS!!!

When your kiddo climbs into the back seat, ask him/her to tell you about their PIT (the absolute worst thing that happened during the day) and their PEAK (the absolute best thing that happened).

You will be amazed by how much information this simple question yields. It is at least a great way to get a conversation started.  Happy last day of school!

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