The Importance of Continuity for Child Comfort

As adults we frequently try out new things and try to enlighten ourselves with new experiences where possible. It is simple human nature for us to seek out difference, which is why people often visit new places on vacation each year and don’t eat the same food at every meal time. Having said this, what most people do not realise is that our lives, as a whole, are determined by pattern and regularity, and this we find comforting. We get up around the same time each day, maintain the same grooming routine in the morning, watch the same TV shows, meet the same people and sleep on the same side of the bed for most of our lives. It is the unknown that scares us most (meeting a new group of people, the dark, death etc.), so whilst we like trying new things, we actually seek consistency and stability (albeit subconsciously) in most elements of our lives in order to maintain a happy equilibrium.

The same paradox is true for children also, but the difference comes in their radius of control. Whilst you can leave a party if you’re unsure of the people there, or change your clothes if you don’t like them for example, a child is more often than not powerless to regain their regular life patterns. This makes it very important for parents to be receptive to a child’s emotional balance and take care not to disrupt their equilibrium too much. Furthermore, children need regularity far more than adults and are less able to cope with large shifts in their environment. During a child’s formative years they are experiencing and learning new things at every turn. In order to concentrate on these new experiences and comprehend them, it is important that the more regular patterns in their lives stay constant. Too much change and the child will lose a sense of who they are their development will be hindered.

Here are 3 simple ways to help your child achieve continuity on a basic level

1.) Children often become very attached to certain toys or items such as dolls or comfort blankets. They associate these objects with comfort and happiness and use them as fulcrum points of security. When they are close to these objects they perceive that they are safe because the objects represent comfort, and so conversely when they are not available the child can feel venerable. I’m not suggesting the children be allowed access to these comfort objects at all times, but by ensuring the items are always available should they be needed will give your child a level of residual comfort and stability.

2.) Communication with your children is vital for many reasons, not least for understanding how stable they feel. Encourage your children to express their fears and concerns and you will put yourself in a better position to help. Of course children should experience new things in order to learn, but too much change can have a negative impact on learning. If you can tell your child is becoming distressed you can use communication to provide stability also, by saying things such as “I’ll be here with you all the time”, “you’ve done similar things lots of times before” or “we can head home whenever you like” etc.

3.) Give their life a pattern, much like you create for your own life. Encourage them to wake at the same time each day, give them a routine for getting ready in morning, give them little tasks to do around the house every day, and ensure they go to bed at the same time each night. They may not like every element of their life pattern, but it is doing the best for them and they will thank you when they are old enough to appreciate it.

BIO: Delia is a mother of two and a travel and lifestyle blogger for a villas in France company. She found blogs like this one invaluable when learning how to be a good parent and would encourage anyone to share their experiences whenever they can.

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