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Helping Children Cope

Growing up isn’t always easy, and the older we get the harder it might become to remember that. Here are some tips to help make life a little more stable and manageable for your child.

1. Use the library.

If there is a library near you, make some use of it. Libraries usually have good sections for children of various ages. For a young child, walking into a library can be like finding a gold mine: all these ideas, all these possibilities! Quite apart from the range of books on offer and what they might contain, there’s the whole idea of a library -a physical place where the community has bothered collect hardback knowledge about Life as well as all kinds of stories and pictures about it. No, it’s not owned or managed by one’s parents, either -which means that there must be a whole world out there outside the normal scope of the home. Dipping in and out of this facility can open your child’s eyes to a wide range of activities and notions that they wouldn’t normally encounter even by browsing the web in their own homes.

2. Establish some favourite places.

Arguably, places are more important to children than they are to adults. Many children associate particular localities with emotions and ideas. Having the child work out a few favourite spots -and then giving them as much access as you can to those spots- can be a calming influence. These can range from a corner of a room to a place in the garden to a local wood -anywhere safe and child-friendly will do. Physical space can act to ‘anchor’ a child in a sometimes turbulent world. As a corollary, try not to pull children suddenly away from their favourite spots if you can -it can be disruptive and unsettling.

3. Spend time with your children.

This one sounds obvious, but many surveys of children will show that amongst their most popular requests will be that their parents spend more time with them. That means not just sitting in the same room or even being on the same holiday with them, but actually giving up time to play with them, listen to them and see the world from their point of view. There’s so much of Life that can be overwhelming to children -and their primary guides to it, their parents, need to acknowledge that and recognise that a sane, healthy adult begins to form from the experiences, shared or otherwise, of the very young child. Spending dedicated time with children is a treasure and a privilege rather than a chore.

4. Keep a journal.

Start keeping a journal about your child’s life as soon as you can. Those moments which, as they happen you think ‘I don’t need to write that down, I’ll never forget it’ are in fact quickly swept aside by more such moments. Keep some kind of a record. And then encourage your child to do the same as soon as he or she can. Notes, words, pictures, anything that can be recorded, will all become treasures later in life. Apart from their future nostalgia value, keeping simple journal can act as a way of stabilising a child’s view of the world and straightening out memories.

Children need islands of stability which they can then build into continents of confidence as adults. These few tips help to set you off on the right path.

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