Predictability & Routine: the Importance in Casting out Fear for Young Children
First, realize the state of what is and stop! Respond with love and attention – which is, in reality, what our children are calling for when they aren’t busy extending love, but rather, in a state of upset. Take moments – MAKE moments – to “be with” your child – REALLY be with them. A family movie night or game night, for example, is not an example of being present if mom and dad are checking their phones or web surfing for the results of the day. Children (and all of us) need undivided attention to feel valued, comforted and heard, even if words are few.
And to be clear, this fear that presents itself in extreme behaviors is not, as parents often think, a controllable choice in young children. The stress that exhibits itself in poor behavioral choices is a result of the body’s physical response to fear – increased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol – that are present in their systems. These hormones prevent children from operating from the frontal, “thinking lobes” of their brain. Rather, they are stuck in the base or limbic areas of the brain, where reasoning is impossible and tantrums and fits occur. Telling them to “stop screaming” or to “use your words” when in this extreme state of upset does not yield desired results; it is impossible for them to make this shift by simple choice! Comforting them to a point of calm, showing empathy and love, and giving them time and attention will help to shift their emotional state and bring them back to a place where reasoning and logic begin to re-emerge.
As we head into summer, you may be eager to be released from the obligations of online and virtual learning, and rightly so. For older kids, in particular, alleviating necessary hours interacting with the screen may be a much-needed break. However, stop to consider, for a moment, how these opportunities benefited your child’s overall sense of maintained routine and emotional security! Seeing familiar faces, having somewhere to ‘be,” and, if you happened to be gifted with a caring teacher who understood the importance of the relationship with your child (and/or you) above a “learning goal,” a sense of love and connection, al beit having to be emitted through a screen! A friend of mine, and teaching assistant in a Kindergarten room of a local school, recently shared that their lead teacher, early on, established the routine of meeting twice a day with her Kindergarteners. The meetings were “optional,” and the learning goals took second place to times of fun and connection. When parents were surveyed after a few weeks, and the teacher asked if they should continue meeting so often, they reported this being valued and important for their kiddos, and them; they wanted to continue the twice a day routine! I bet if children could articulate in words what they were feeling, it was a lifeline to their emotional well-being through a safe, fun, predictable routine with a teacher who know her most important job was to care for, not just “teach” them.
As you consider establishing a routine for summer days without school, include establishing a schedule of routines that are most meaningful and beneficial, not only to accomplishing the simple tasks of dressing for the day, doing chores, play time, etc., but also those that result in special times of connection as a family! This is where I believe we, at Kindermusik with Music Connections Foundation, are ready to serve! Our team of educators have navigated our classrooms, where we know connection is important, to places, virtually, where gentle, guided interaction help you make time to STOP and be together in fun, joyful music-making. Our unlimited Zoom Rooms in June will be places to offer routines that have the potential to become family rituals in new ways, because they will be at HOME! (A “ritual,” by the way, is a routine that adds to it the elements of play, touch, eye contact, and REAL presence; THESE are the routines that kids will remember and request for the rest of their lives, and pass on to their children – your grandchildren).
With our unlimited ZOOM ROOMS you can choose a “room” – the NURSERY ROOM, FAMILY ROOM, REC ROOMS, or HOME THEATRE ROOMS – and various times of day for “Family Jams,” “Coffee and Connect,” “Pajama Parties,” and “Lullaby Lounges,” that will provide a chance to STOP the distractions of TV and voices in your head; you will connect, sing, play instruments (or tupperware!), laugh and be together. You can ask your friends, neighbors, even cousins across the country to join, too! A by-product, by the way, and I sincerely MEAN that it is secondary to providing you with a valuable service, will be that you will be supporting our small business and our mission of providing music to all children – a mission that has been our goal for 26 years. We appreciate that support, but most of all, we love and appreciate that our “business” is one of the heart – music, as the language of love – and so we are working hard to continue to bring it to you. God bless you, and God bless singing, dancing and being connected in that way through this pandemic.
Petit: Early Learning Journey. (2017). 10 Reasons A Daily Routine is Important for Your Child (and How to Set One). https://www.petitjourney.com.au/10-reasons-a-daily-routine-is-important-for-your-child-and-how-to-set-one/
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