Autumn is a time of transition. Just as students are getting comfortable with the new school year, Daylight Savings Time disrupts our schedules. Unpredictable weather patterns, special events, and a steady stream of visitors further upset our plans. The constant changes stress all members of the family unit. Emotional management can help reduce the strain on parents and children.
Transition and Change
Change is hard for everyone. For children just learning to manage complex emotions, it can be even harder. Consistency and predictability in their daily routines help children feel confident and secure. When their regular schedule changes, children cannot predict what will happen next. Feeling unsafe and unsure, they may act out in an attempt to get the attention they need to regain their sense of well-being.
Children also have a hard time with transitions because, like everyone else, they may simply not want to stop their current activities. Even if the activity is potentially enjoyable, some children may balk at the idea of leaving known comforts. This can be especially true for children with special needs, communication issues, or those who are too young to verbally express themselves.
Tips to Encourage Emotional Management
Changes and transitions are unavoidable. Use these four tips to help your whole family manage fall stress.
Prepare them. Talk about where you are going, what’s going to happen, and who will be there. Mention the names of friends or favorite family members they may not have seen in a while. This creates a sense of excitement for the event and reduces confusion and anxiety.
Know their limits. Younger children and those with sensory issues have a hard time with long, loud, or crowded gatherings. If you know you want to stay late, have a quiet space prepared for them to escape and readjust when things get overwhelming.
Be ready to respond. Familiar items, sounds, and experiences can soothe an anxious child. A favorite toy can go far in helping to soothe anxious feelings.
When schedule changes are unavoidable, try to stick to their normal routine as much as possible. This will help keep your child from getting too overwhelmed.
When your child is relaxed and stress-free, the whole family is able to enjoy the seasonal fun.
Importance of Modeling
You are your child’s best teacher. Teach them emotional management techniques by showing self-control.
No matter how upset your child is, maintain a calm demeanor.
Limit choices during potentially stressful times. Knowing you are in control will help your child feel more secure.
Always be honest. A small fib can earn temporary compliance but may damage their ability to trust you over time.
Handling your own emotions is the best way to teach your child how to manage their own complicated feelings.
Change is a natural part of life. Emotional management will help you keep your whole family calm, so you can enjoy the uniqueness of the fall season.
By, Deanna Colette Cupo, MSW