Updated: Nov 4, 2020
I am sure everyone has used the words 'uncertain' and 'unprecedented' to describe our world here recently. With so much changing, we mustn't forget of the impacts this has on our youngest children. During times of uncertainty, I refer to a quote I love from Dr. Mona Delahooke:
"The critical determinant in how children fare when faced with a crisis is how well the adults around them support a sense of safety and resilience" ~ Dr. Mona Delahooke
I keep this quote in mind when I am in the classroom with my infants everyday and use it as a reminder of the classroom community I want to be creating during this time. One of the ways I try to support a sense safety and resilience with infants and young children is by being consistent and predictable (as much as possible). Infants and young children feel safe and in control when they can predict what is going to happen.
Routines are a great way to make that happen. In the classroom, we have predictable routines for our caregiving routines so children are able to actively participate. To bring this strategy home, figure out what your routines are for bathtime, bedtime, waking-up, cleaning up after meals, etc. and consistently follow through on them.
Another important thing during this time is to be consistent and reasonable with your boundaries and expectations for behavior. Testing limits and boundaries are ways young children build trust with their adults. Young children want to know if you are going to respond the same way each time. It may get tiresome to repeat the same boundary, but repetition is how young children learn and wire their brains. In the words of Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, Neurons that fire together wire together!
It is also important that the boundaries we are presenting to our young children are reasonable and developmentally appropriate. This is where our handy tool of observation is so important. Sit and notice what the child is doing, without any judgement, for at least 2 minutes. These 2 minutes can tell you so much about the needs your infant or young child has. You may find that they are climbing on the couch not to climb- but to look out the window. Seeing your child's behavior as communication will allow to get a glimpse into your child's intentions.
To be able to do this effectively with the most impact, we have to make sure we take care of ourselves too! Whether that is finding time everyday to meditate, drinking a cup of coffee while it's hot, journaling, taking deep breaths, or tapping out, we won't be able to help our children regulate while we are dysregulated.
At the end of the day, the relationships children have with their caregivers are going to shape their ability to adapt and thrive in stressful situations.