As a follow up to my previous blog on “Becoming Less Rigid and More Flexible”, I wanted to add some important ideas for increasing this flexibility in your kids. It might be really hard to balance a child’s need for both structure and spontaneity. An important difference can also be made between being structured and being rigid. Structure allows for a framework, choices, and some flexibility, while rigidity means you better follow the rules or else. So think about how you can provide your child with structure, but also provide some fun, flexibility, and freedom. These are equally important skills.
One of the most important lessons children can learn is that when things do not go exactly as planned, it will be okay and they can problem solve and get through it. So next time your life gets turned upside down, remember that your children are learning from you about how to handle these types of situations. Do you melt down, fall apart, or rise to the challenge? How do you want them to handle these types of situations?
In order to build the skill of flexibility, it might also be helpful to change things up every once in a while. For example, some families will do breakfast for dinner or go see a movie instead of running errands. You can also build a fort to sleep in instead of their beds. These changes on your part allow them to see the importance of both structure and flexibility.
One of my favorite resources I frequently recommend to parents is “Wreck This Journal” by Keri Smith. She created a book that instructs children to do things they might never think to do. For example, crack the spine of the book, scribble in it, tear out pages, and drop it down stairs. Basically, she is trying to get kids to loosen up and think outside the box. They can learn that it is okay to do things differently and, most importantly, that not everything has to be perfect.