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Structure: Helping your child feel safe

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Have you ever heard a child say “well that’s not how mommy does it”? That’s because for the most part people are creatures of habit. We do things the same way every time we do them. As adults we know what we have to do and how we have to do it. We know if we get up at 6am that we have just enough time to shower, get dressed, and pull the kids out of bed with enough time to get them in the car and to child care and get to work on time. How do you think you would feel if someone came into your house and started changing how and when you did things? If you didn’t know what was coming next how would that make you feel?

SECURITY- In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs safety is second to food and water. We all need to feel safe and secure. However, preschool-aged children can often feel stress and insecurity due to having little say in the big choices in their lives. They may start acting out because they don’t feel safe. They don’t have control over what happened so they manipulate the one thing they do have control over: how they react to it.

SCHEDULE AND ROUTINE- Setting a schedule and routine for them to follow will help reduce outbursts. When they know what is coming next they feel safe and secure. Having a set bedtime routine and morning routine will help children know what’s coming next. If you have a child who has a hard time dealing with change, making a visual schedule will help them see what they do next. Have them help draw pictures of what you do in a day: wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, get in the car, go to school, etc. Then place them in order somewhere your child can see them to help them know what's coming next.

CONSISTINSY- Follow the schedule that you created. Talk about it. Ask them what you just finished and what comes next. Soon they will be able to tell you without looking at the schedule. Let them know that every day you do the same thing. If there’s going to be a change in the schedule let them know ahead of time. This helps them understand what’s going on and that even if something is different they are still safe. Once they feel safe and more in control of themselves their behaviors will start to be in control as well.

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