Why Boomer Grandparents Should Pay Attention to How Grandchildren Adapt to Change

mother and daughterSchool is starting again and summer routines turn into school routines for our grandchildren.  Just like us for us adults, change is difficult for children.  We all like things stressless and change brings stress.  We all like routine and change brings disruption to our routine.  I believe we adults would rather deal with the devil we know than the devil we do not know, the unknown.  I am convinced that is why we stay with jobs and relationships long after we should, and why we re-elect political encumbents more often than not.

When does this dislike of change begin?

This Grandma, watching her own children and grandchildren, believes this dislike of change starts at birth.  We hear about “on demand” feedings of newborns, and doctors never telling new mothers when to switch to a semblance of a schedule, until the mothers come to them exhausted and stressed.  The “family” baby nurse immediately began scheduling the newborns upon coming home from the hospital.  She felt that they and their parents thrived on routine.  The babies seemed to respond to her scheduling and nothing in their growth and development was hindered.  The new parents seemed to do better too.

But, what this Grandma did notice was that some of the babies did better than others when the routine or schedule was disrupted.  There is a lot of talk recently about “easy” babies and “hard” babies and listening to baby signals.  This Grandma even did a post about this.  “Baby Signals are Grandchildren’s Signals Forever and Not Just About Feeding A Hungry Baby.”

As an extension of the discussion in that post, this Grandma believes temperament and dealing with change go hand in hand, from newborn on and throughout life.  Whether it is somewhat environment is a given.  We know that young children do better with stability, and an unstable environment, lack of consistent care, food or shelter, the basic needs of life for them, cause irreparable harm.  However, this Grandma believes we can tell from a baby how that baby is going to deal with change throughout his or her life.

What are the signs of how a baby deals with change?

Sometimes a baby can sleep anywhere and sometimes a baby can sleep only in his or her crib for naps and night.  Sometimes a baby cannot sleep without his or her only comfort toy and sometimes a baby will cry uncontrollably until that only comfort toy/blanket is found.  We know all babies go through a period when separation from a primary caretaker is difficult, around eight months old, but some babies only want their primary caretaker all the time, and other babies will go to anyone.  I love to watch babies when I smile at them in the supermarket or elsewhere; some babies abhor strangers, and just stare, or look to and grab at their parents, and some will smile and even flirt.  I love to see the different temperaments and personalities.

Some young toddlers, starting day care or preschool, leave their parents without a second glance.  Some young toddlers, starting day care or preschool, cannot leave their parents without tears and tantrums, and need a transition period where the parent remains for a time at the daycare or preschool.

To this Grandma, these are the signs of how someone will deal with change throughout their lives, and who as an adult, will be reluctant to change and who, as an adult, will embrace change.

It can also be significant in our day and age where the grandbaby or grandchild may be going from a mother’s home to a father’s home, due to paternity and unmarried parents who do not reside together, or due to separation and divorce of parents.

What can work to help babies and children adapt to change?

We adults can try to lessen the impact of change upon babies and children, by lessening change as much as possible.  For newborns and small babies who have a strong sense of smell, we Grandmas can ask the mothers to wear our large t shirts when they feed the newborn, so when we want to relieve the mothers, we wear the t shirt with their smell.  The baby may feel different arms, but smell the same smell.  As a grandma, I know I am calm holding the baby, after holding so many babies, that the different arms may not be so stressful.  We Grandmas can use the same detergent and cleansers for all the baby clothes and gear, and even our own.

With babies and children, we can try to duplicate their environment in their homes.  When parents are sharing babies and children in separate homes, the baby’s room should be as exact as possible with the same paint color, furniture and layout of furniture, and of course, the same smells. We grandparents may not want to spend the money or have the money for such duplication, but with small things, a bassinet, for example, we can do what we can to lessen change and stress on our grandchildren.

Why should we, as Boomer grandparents, pay attention to how grandchildren adapt to change?

We Boomer grandparents have lived long and have much experience.  We want the joy of grand parenting and not the responsibility of parenting, but we know the hard work and long hours that the parents of our grandchildren have in raising our precious grandchildren.  If we can ease the lives of the parents of our grandchildren and the lives of our grandchildren by sharing what we see, we are doing a service to both.  We want easy access to our grandchildren and want to ease that access for the grandchildren.

Just by bringing our t shirts and asking the mothers to wear them, we are serving as an example of what also works with fathers, nannies, and other caregivers.  As in “baby signals,” by sharing how the baby deals with change, we can clue the parents into the fact that stress accompanies the baby who needs strong structure with little variance, and talk about temperament and techniques to help the parents and baby.  We may need to visit and care for the baby who needs such in his or her home, rather than asking the parents to bring the baby to the grandparent’s home for the parents to have respite.

We also have to think about “resilience” and “fragility” of our grandchildren as babies and grandchildren.  It seems to this Grandma that those grandchildren who are more resilient can deal better with change, and those who are more fragile in nature do not.  This also factors into the environments in which our grandchildren are raised.  See post, “Why Should We Care about Our Grandchildren’s Resiliency?”

And, post, “This Grandma Now Thinks We can Build Resilience in Our Grandchildren.”

There is no “one size fits all” in babies and children.  There is no”one size fits all” in helping parents and babies who may or may not deal well with change.  Each family is unique and each family circumstance and environment is unique.  We can just suggest transitioning, alternatives that each of us may have learned through experience, to try to help.  Or just be there to raise awareness or be there to help, when needed, and when we can.  See, for example, post, “Our Grandchildren Will Grow Up Just Fine Even Though We Are Not Raising Them, Even In Today’s Society When the Parents May Or May Not Be Married.”

Thinking about change and how it impacts our babies and toddlers, and grandchildren as they get older, may cause us to think about how each of us Boomer grandparents deals with change.

Yes, this Grandma is the first to listen to our grandchildren’s music and want to know everything up to date.  I embrace change and want to grow and learn with my grandchildren.  It never occurred to me before that, by example, embracing change, I am showing my grandchildren how much fun it is to learn and change.  Maybe the trick is have the mantra of “Forever Young” with

 

Joy,

 

Mema

 

 

 

 

 

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