Parenting with consistency and predictability – Part I
Children (and adults too) thrive on a recipe of 2-3 cups of “sameness” with regular pinches of “new experience” thrown in. Kids want to eat the same breakfast cereal every morning. They want to watch the same movie a hundred times. They want to go to the same playground. They want to hear the same bedtime story every night. Why?
There are many reasons for this need for predictability. But one reason is that kids are absorbing vast amounts of new knowledge and information every minute. Like sponges, they are soaking up new rules, values, norms, expectations, and social data in gigabytes! This can be de-stabilizing, so children take refuge in a certain amount of predictability. Actually, they love it.
So how can we find a healthy balance between predictability, novelty, and change in our children’s lives?
Accept your child’s desire for sameness. Don’t be over concerned about the need to stimulate your young child with new experiences. Instead, incorporate predictability in everyday life. No one’s growth was stunted by eating the same lunch every day! It’s ok to go back year after year to the same great vacation spot. Children like to anticipate environments they know well and have some comfort in.
Be sensitive to the number of transitions in your child’s daily life. Many parents wonder if their child is over programmed with activities. Young children may feel stressed if they have to manage too many transitions. If your child is looking overwhelmed, think about whether they are making too many daily changes.
Balance new experiences with comfortable old ones. Starting a new activity is exciting and stimulating. Visiting a new place is fun. Balance these new activities and adventures with familiar experiences so that youngsters stay comfortable.
Share some of your experiences with your children!