Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Helping little ones through times of adjustment

In about three months we are having a new baby, just six weeks after that we will be moving to a new state. These are big adjustments for adults and are HUGE for a toddler/preschooler. Over the years we've had 6 (going on 7) babies, and moved 5 (going on 6) times; 4 of those moves have involved little ones. I've learned to recognize the signals that my children give me that just maybe they are struggling with these transitions. They have each reacted differently, but they do act out in some way, even when handled well. *some manifestations we've seen of this have been lack of self-control (temper tantrums/screaming), defiance, sleep problems, clingy, constipation, and increased sicknesses.
While our older kids have a much better idea of what to expect during these transitions, can talk to us about how they are feeling about what is going on, and are VERY excited.... Our little ones just don't quite know what to think of all of this; and so they struggle.
*While we don't like to see our little ones struggle, we also see this as an opportunity to teach self-control and coping skills. The issue is not so much that they are struggling, but are we teaching them and helping them along in the process?

As a family we spend time talking about the new baby and our new home. We talk about past moves, and point out the moving trucks in our neighborhood (living on base means a constant stream of movers!). Some of our school time involves reading about our new state, and reading about new babies/pregnancy. I also spend time with the little ones reading simple "new baby" books and right now those seem to be Miss J and Miss C's favorite books to read. I spend extra time cuddling with them when they need it. Yet even with all of this they can and do struggle, it is all still so foreign to them.

In the last couple of months both Miss J and Miss C have been showing us that they are struggling with these transitions. Not in huge ways, but we can see it. Both are naturally very cuddly and clingy. I like that, I like that my little ones enjoy cuddling and prefer to be with "their people" (this includes siblings). This time passes quickly and all too soon they will be off playing and not needing so much of that cuddle time....but when their needs increase as they have, it shows us that they are struggling.

Miss J has always LOVED mommy's bed. From birth laying in my bed could sooth her when nothing else could (not even being in my arms)! So it has been no surprise to us that in the last two months she has started asking to sleep in bed with me. Now, I'm just not a co-sleeping kind of parent. I just don't sleep well with a baby/child in my bed, and I need my sleep. We've been trying out nap times in bed with me, which has been nice, but just not doing it for her. It is night time that she wants to be with me. Ah, how to balance the needs of this sweet little girl and this pregnant mommy?
We set up a little bed for her in our room last night. We will see how that goes. I imagine she will be spending many nights there. I'm guessing we will also have a little guest IN our bed from time to time over the next few months. She will be fine, she will enjoy her new baby brother (who she is very excited about and talks about all the time) and once we settle into our new home she will see that things really are not that different. In the mean time we will love on her (and the rest of the kids too!) and continue doing what we have been doing, trying to keep things "normal" while still preparing for these transitions trusting that God will give us the wisdom, grace and protection to get through this time and praying that we will glorify him in all that we do.

*I hope I did not paint a bleak picture here. Our little girls (and all of our children) are still cheerfully enjoying life. These issues are coming up and part of life, but they are not overwhelming and taking over our lives.

I'm linking to Raising Homemakers today.


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