Children (like most humans) are creatures of habit. When something unexpected happens it can throw things upside down in their little world.
Children, especially young children, will struggle to discuss the changes that happened but you will know they are affected by it through their behaviour.
The following are some common things that happen when the unexpected happens:
1. Increased Tantrums
3. Increased Emotion (tears and whining)
4. Interrupted Sleep
5. Decreased/Increased Appetite
Your child is being affected by the unexpected event, Now What???
First, let’s talk about a situation that we went through about a year and a half ago…
Unexpectedly, my husband and father of our then 5-year-old ended up in the hospital for just under a week. This event rocked us all to the core. I wanted to curl up and separate from the world; however, this adorable little 5-year-old had a different plan.
The little guy kept asking the same questions over and over again. He would replay the situation with his words. He would tell anyone that would listen (sometimes that meant he was telling strangers details). This was hard for me to process; however, I knew the importance of letting him talk so I did. We never shut him down. He slowly stopped talking about it on his own.
He asked to stick with his routine. I thought it was best to keep him home from school the day after his dad ended up in the hospital. He wanted to go to school. I then sent him to school. Children thrive on the expected! He was comfortable going to school and wanted to be there. So off to school he went. He also wanted to go to Beavers that night so he did.
He needed to see that Daddy was okay so we went to the hospital to see him but did not stay long. We kept the visit short and sweet.
Then he asked for answers. He needed to know why things happened the way they did so I explained things in terms I knew he would understand. I did not shelter him from the experience. Instead, I involved him and kept things as age appropriate as possible.
We often try to protect our kids. In protecting them we do not give them the information they need. This can be harmful. Children will start to use their imaginations to come up with reasons that things happen. It is best to keep them in the loop. This really helped our little man.
In time, he was able to move on from the situation. He actually moved on much quicker then the adults did.
Steps to Take when the Unexpected Happens:
1. Keep to the regular routine as much as possible
2. Let your child talk (no shutting them down)
3. Do not take any outbursts personally
4. Keep things age appropriate
In summary, do not underestimate your child’s ability to handle the situation. Your child will thrive if you keep things age appropriate and as close to their routine as possible. If you have any further comments, please feel free to comment in the comments section under this post.