All children need a sense of safety and security to thrive. We can think of this as creating a ‘container’ for your child with a stable base and secure predictable outer boundaries. Your child’s job is to push against those boundaries initially, just to see where they are, and once found, they can feel safe and secure. 

Creating consistent and predictable daily routines is a key part of this. However, what if your family is displaced, or it is in a time of transition, where nothing seems to be predictable? The key is to use small daily rituals to create a consistent base of security for your child. The morning and bedtime rituals will be the bookends of predictability in your child’s day, even if you are in a new environment. Here are ideas for using routines to create security for your child:

  • Stay emotionally connected with your child, through affection and shared playful interactions and activities. This is the emotional “glue” for your child that creates a sense of safety.
  • Create a morning ritual that involves sweet affection to start the day with connection and then a small predictable sequence. You can strengthen the ritual with a story, song, or a stuffed animal that will make the ritual uniquely yours.
  • Create a bedtime ritual that involves snuggles for connection, a story, back tickles or massage to relax, and something that smells like you to give your child comfort.
  • Try to maintain a routine for eating main meals. You may use a dedicated blanket to sit on or use a specific dish and cup. You may turn on a specific light, or give thanks as part of starting your ritual and put dishes/rubbish away as an ending ritual. 
  • Create ‘Quiet Time’, ideally after each meal. This is the natural time your child’s body digests food and will be ready to slow down. 
  • You can set the stage for calm rituals by choosing a quiet area, dimming the lights, and talking in a low voice. You may do big breaths together.
  • Create a cozy space (indoors or outdoors) where your child brings their favorite pillow and blanket. Have your child choose one or two ‘quiet activities’ such as looking at a book, playing with a quiet toy, or quiet singing.

These daily rituals will be the anchors for your child to feel safe and secure even amidst uncertainty.