For children and adults alike, change is an inherent part of life. All of us, at various points in time, will likely have to grapple with both minor and major adjustments to our lives and routines. While minor changes - deviations from the daily schedule, a new location for a regular activity, a new coach or babysitter - can place short-term stress on children, major life changes - relocating to a new school, a new house, or a new city, for example - can be significantly disorienting and are likely to require more intensive support, even when the changes are fundamentally positive in nature.
“Why do you talk like that?” I heard the question come from behind me as I helped another child in the Sunday school class. “It’s just the way I am,” I heard my sister-in-law wisely answer the curious boy. My sister-in-law, Kara, was born with Cerebral Palsy. She was helping me in the Sunday school classroom that day when one of the kids noticed her speech was different. Kara has been taught to answer, “It’s just the way I am” after years of questions about her differences.
My kids love animals; especially dogs. We had a wonderful family dog named Charlie (aka Choo Choo) who was hit by a car recently and passed away. As a parent, I felt helpless when my three children cried in my arms at the sudden loss in their lives. It was the first time we had lost a pet with such a tragic ending. I wasn’t sure what to say, other than, “I am so sorry about Choo. I know you miss him. Mommy does, too.”
It’s the worst day of my life,” is a common refrain from my son. When I pick him up from school or an activity, he often starts with a list of what went wrong during his day. For a person who strives to find the positive and keep her sense of humor about life, it can be challenging to parent a child who tends toward the negative. My standard comeback is that he needs to tell me ‘an equal number of positive comments to balance out the negative ones.’ Sometimes this reduces the list of complaints and, at the very least, it teaches him perspective.
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