2020 has been a strange year for us all, but especially our children. With drastic changes in how things get done at home and less chances to play with friends, it’s been a bewildering ride. Even our youngest ones feel environmental changes, with their parents now working at home and more family members than ever living under the same roof. If you have senior family members moving in, there’s a lot you can do to help your toddler feel more relaxed.
Understand why seniors scare younger children
If your family has a senior joining you in your home (or vice-versa), you could be concerned about social behaviors from children under three. Many young children are naturally wary of older adults.Older folk come with unfamiliar aides – walking sticks, hearing aids, or perhaps even oxygen tanks or walkers – that are alien to a toddler. Seniors also have their set routines; they can talk loudly and may grip, squeeze and prod a child in ways they aren’t used to. Fear of strangers is a well-known developmental milestone for toddlers. The last thing you want is to let your senior be the one to activate it. The great news is we can help them work through it to ensure a smooth transition. You can even consider letting them pick out a gift for grandma or grandpa to help them feel included in the initial decision.
Know your child’s limits
Be sure to check in with your children’s limits. Every mother knows what their children’s limits are, and what will set off a meltdown. Don’t expect your kids to magically be different just because it’s family. Does your toddler have a short fuse? Plan to give them space with play breaks, fun crafts, or a strategic Disney movie, especially during the adjustment period. Be prepared to make sure the senior family member respects those needs, too. It is still your toddler’s home and safe space.
Consider in-home care
You may feel you have to ‘keep it all in the family’ in regards to a senior parent if the alternative is entering a care home when they’d rather stay on a family property. Perhaps you feel that moving them out of a care home environment is the best option as we weather the last of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to realize there are other options than turning your young family upside-down. Live-in home care provides your senior with a skilled companion to give them company, assist with tasks, ensure medication is taken, and keep a watchful eye on your elder loved ones. Even if moving in with you is still the best option, hourly home-care services, such as those offered by Husky Senior Care here, allow you to take a break from full-time care and help you balance your new demands more effectively.
Help your child develop empathy
Once the adjustment period is over, your child may still be resentful of the time spent with your senior and the long-term changes to their routine. Toddlers are entering the period where they are first developing empathy, and you can help guide that development healthily. Scholastic has some tips to help you.
Housing different generations under one roof can be a stressful adjustment. With care, attention, and a lot of love, however, your little one will soon be looking forward to the newly expanded family with confidence.