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Monday, November 29, 2010

Helping Her Cope With Departing Visitors


It's always difficult for a little one to understand the fact that the visitor who was here till yesterday is gone today.

A family member who comes for a short stay and then goes back, will, in most cases, end up making your toddler burst out in tears.....Toddlers and young children find it especially difficult to adjust back to regular routine once the guest is gone. If it's a cherished family member who has now gone back, the trouble is even more.

Many times, children will not voice their sadness, they will not tell you they are missing the person who has left now. But the signs will be all over the house. A child will most likely be touchy once the house guest has left. They will be upset or angry at the slightest instance, not ready to listen and almost as if waiting to find an excuse to cry. Your child may be moody or sulky, may refuse to indulge in the regular activities they did before the guest arrived/left and may not want to listen to you at all....in some instances, they may also accuse you of being unfair. All these are signs that your little one is missing that person in the home....that they are trying to deal with the separation of the house member who has left.

When her grandparents told her they were leaving, my three-year-old daughter went up to them and asked in the most innocent expression ever - 'Why? What have I done?" We realised she was taking their leaving as a sign of something wrong that she had done. It is wrong to tell children that their doing something wrong or naughty may result in mamma-papa or others leaving. We are guilty of doing this sometime or other, I am sure you may have done it sometime unconsciously too.

In my experiences with my little daughter, I have realised that children have a very short attention span if they have other options of distraction around. So, both me and my husband make use of the fact that once a visiting relation leaves, we give our daughter ample things to be distracted with.

This may not always be a materialistic way of getting out - we do not always buy her or a book or a toy. There are many ways this can be handled easily.

1. Two-three days before the date of the guest's departure, we keep telling her the guest has to go back home, that they have people there who are missing them and now they need to go back there and get back to their work.
2. We reassure our daughter that we are here with her and will always be - it is only the visitor who will be leaving.
3. Sometimes, if there is a new toy or a book that I know my daughter is especially looking forward to, I make it a point to not show her the same till the last moment, when the person has left. Then I sit down with her and help her go through her new possession.
4. I always take my daughter to see-off the guests. We do not tell them to sneak out. Leaving while the child is unaware will only make them more insecure, they feel that there is a chance that mummy-papa may suddenly vanish too...This is applicable in daily life too. It is always better to let a child know that mamma-papa are going out, and to let them say their goodbyes.
5. Let your child get involved in some activity when the person leaves. Christmas is round the corner. So I brought down last year's Christmas tree and asked my little one to help me with the decorations. We spent the whole day decorating the Christmas tree...in the midst of the lights and the mistletoe, she forgot who had left and that someone had left at all.
6. Sometimes we leave for a movie right after the person has left. That helps her get distracted too.
7. We avoid talking of the person who has just left, so that our daughter does not remember again and get sad.

Give your little one more love and affection and give them your full attention once the guest has left. Let them know and understand that mamma-papa are always around no matter what, and that together, you can still have a lot of fun....


And like I always say and believe in:
'Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children' - MJ

Happy Parenting!!!!
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