For some families, especially with those one parent away on military service or working far from home, there is the added stress of a parent being absent for long periods of time. How best can you cope with this added complication?
Although it may be difficult and strange at first, the fact is that you can make it a positive time for the children as well as yourself. How? Here are a few tips.
Keep busy: establish a routine and try to stick to it. Keep yourself busy too and keep in touch with your friends and family during the absence. You may wish to keep a diary and note you experiences, feelings and how you cope... good or bad! It's a private journal, so be honest.
Stress: it's easy to say 'avoid stress', but you can help with regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle. You don't need to go crazy... a good brisk walk around the neighbourhood can do wonders for your stress level and help reduce tension.
Help: ask for help when you feel it is getting too much. Call in some favours and get friends round or ask to drop over for dinner. Organise an occasional night out with your friends... get a babysitter or call on family to mind the children while you have some fun with your own friends.
Phones and letters: communicate as much as you are able with your loved one: email, skype, text, phone, write; do whatever you choose best and keep it regular. It will help them as well as your little ones. Involve the children by sending packages together and letters with their drawings and pictures.
Talk: make sure you speak to the children and share your worries, and experiences with them. They will feel more involved and will be a great comfort.
Remember it's just as difficult for the absent parent, missing seeing their family, as it is for you. Good Luck!
When it feels like we can't cope, we begin to worry and get stressed and exactly the same is true of children. There are certain times when children might not not be calm: at times of great change such as moving house, parents separating or divorcing, when changing class or school, or making new friends.
Signs that your child might be stressed:
Ways to help keep your child stress free:
So many parents - even of toddling or pre-school age children - struggle to get their children to sleep for the whole night without waking up or without them slipping into their parent's bed.
They wake; they demand milk; they need cuddles; they refuse to go back to sleep and they disturb you and everyone else in the house. And, at the sound of the child stirring at night send shock waves through the parents even if the little one is just turning over or breathing a little heavier than normal. So, even when they are not really awake... the parents are!
When sleep is in short supply all sorts of other repercussions occur. You're grumpy, your partner is grumpy, other children in the house are effected; your efficiency slips and everyone has a rotten time! Do you go to a doctor, let them scream it out, get up and give them everything they demand in order to get a easier and quieter life? It is incredibly hard and unless you're in the situation you really don't know how much endless sleepless nights can disrupt all your lives.
Why do they wake? Here are some thoughts:-
How to help:
Dealing with a 'moody' child can be very exhausting, especially if you are sensitive to the psychological repercussions that might develop and you are worried about where the moodiness will lead. Be assured that it's very rare to have clinically depressed children under preschool age, unless there is a serious issue. What you are probably dealing with is a child who slips into a bad mood and has trouble getting out of it. It's perfectly normal. How you deal with the mood, however, is important.
Here are a few pointers.
So, keep it in perspective, keep your cool and keep positive. Good luck!
Comforters come in all shapes and sizes: it could be a favourite teddy, a blanket or muslin, a soft toy or even a favourite sock or top! Whatever it is, if it helps your baby to sleep, it's probably worth having. Studies have shown that babies with comforters of some sort do sleep better than those that go to bed with nothing. When children have a favourite item or toy, they are more able to self soothe if they do wake up in the night, and this is essential to getting back to sleep on their own.
Parents who rock, cuddle or feed their baby to sleep find in the most part that when they wake in the night, they have to go through the same rigmarole during the night. This is the only way that the baby will go back to sleep. When they have a comforter of some sort, they manage to get to sleep independent of you being there.
For many children a comforter is an effective way of dealing with anxiety or stressful situations. It soothes them and is a comfort. It helps them deal with the situation.
What to choose as a comforter?
You may find that your baby chooses their own comforter independent of your choice. They may always reach for the muslin or ask for a particular teddy. However, if you are trying to decide on something, try to follow these tips...
How to choose a comforter?
1. Choose something that is easily replaceable (ie teddy that is from a high street store or a muslin that is indistinguishable from others.)
2. Choose something specifically designed for babies to use at night time: i.e. not a wooden train or a hard toy that could hurt them.
3. Choose something that is age appropriate i.e. soft toys designed for babies (with no loose eyes or buttons that could come off during the night and present a choking hazard).
4. Choose something that is soft and warm to touch; something that can be stroked or snuggled into.
5. Chose something pale in colour because bright, highly contrasting colours stimulate babies and do not help them sleep.
6. Make sure it's washable!
When should a baby be given a comforter?
You can place a small soft toy in the cot from a very early age. Try holding it close against your skin for a while before bed so it takes on your smell. This can add to the comfort for babies, as well as being able to see it.
Children between 6 months and 2 years will begin to form a real attachment to objects and will be more keen to use a comforter. They can have it at night or when they are somewhere new or in situations when they feel anxious.
By 3 years, they may only need it at night, but be led by them.
By age 5, most children have favourites, but the need to rely on one comforter tends to have passed. Try not to feel pressure from other children or parents to give up the comforter. If it's doing it's job, keeping your little one sleeping through the night or helping them cope with stressful situations, then keep it!
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