Every child has his or her perspective on life. This perspective develops with time and experience. A sense of like and dislike is established at a very young age. Change is an inevitable factor that comes along with existence, how we perceive and adapt to these changes are highly influenced by our childhood experiences. Hence, it becomes very important to instill the quality of adaptability in children. The responsibility falls upon parents to prepare their kids for the life long process of change.
A general ability to be flexible in life becomes an important predictor of how content one will grow up to be in life. For example, if a child grows up with a fixed set of expectations as to how things will turn out to be and situations don’t turn out the same, it will become extremely frustrating. Whereas if the child develops an understanding of how to adapt no matter how things turn out, he or she will learn how to thrive in life despite any challenges.
To help your child in becoming more flexible as an individual, the following techniques can be used :
1. Building a flexible routine – The key to instilling flexibility in a child is to set a flexible routine, with a lot of choices of activities that the child can select from. Mixing it up from time to time allows the child to learn how to make the best out of everything that they are engaged in. A predictable routine hampers a child’s ability to learn and grow from new experiences. Even in special needs schools and in special education, a sense of flexibility with routine is a key element in teaching the child about self-sufficiency.
2. Be a role model – A child primarily learns by observing the adults around him, you need to set an example of how to react to change. If things do not go according to plan, and you get frustrated the child learns the same response over time, but if you accept it as a part of life and plan for what to do next calmly, the child receives an excellent input of how to be flexible.
3. Prepare your child for any changes – When situations are changing, prepare your child first-hand. Let the child know what is coming and that it is going to be ok. For example, if you were to relocate to a new city for a job, inform the child and let them know about it rather than directly making the shift. The benefit of this technique is that the child learns to be mentally prepared for changes rather than directly being thrown into new situations.
4. Communicate about why it is so important to be flexible – It is important to have a conversation with the child about being generally flexible, it lets the child know that it is okay to talk about anything that comes up in life.
5. Storytelling – One of the indirect and more subtle ways of promoting flexibility and teaching effective coping skills is through stories. The stories where the protagonist goes through various changes and adapts through healthy coping mechanisms are quite effective in influencing the child’s mindset towards change.
6. Let your child know that it is ok to feel bad sometimes – Ups and downs are a part of life, It is important to let the child know that no matter what happens there is a healthy way of dealing with the negative emotions that come up when things don’t go according to plans. Assure the child that it is ok to feel bad and it is possible to handle these emotions.
7. Be your child’s source of strength – When your child is faced with major life changes, be there for them. Let them know that you are available, and you will support them unconditionally. Every child looks up to their parents for emotional strength when they are trying to cope up with life.
8. Listening is important – When a child is trying to express themselves about what is going on or how they are feeling, encourage them to do so. Be empathetic, a child’s problems are equally important as an adult’s. When you listen to your child it develops a sense of trust, they will have emotional security that you are there for them no matter what.
9. Be aware of what is going on – Always stay updated about what is going on in the life of your child. If there is any challenge, build your child’s confidence to deal with them head-on while assuring them that you are always there if anything goes wrong.
10. Teach the child to think of an alternate course of action – A key element of flexibility and adaptability to change involves thinking and planning the alternate course of action. Teach your child to think critically about the situations and how problems can be solved in different ways. Some of the best child psychologists in Delhi also recommend implementing these simple yet effective techniques of flexibility. These skills will go a long way in your child’s life.