By Jenna Adamski, RSW, JFSC Family Enrichment Program
(Calgary) – Busy crosswalks, a stream of backpacks, turning leaves and brisk morning air signifies the end of the summer. The new school year, approaching High Holidays and upcoming New Year signifies renewal, beginnings, and change.
With these changes, families experience a flood of emotions as they transition back to school – anticipation, nerves, and excitement. For parents, the back-to-school season reignites bustling routines, activities, and a continual re-filling of our coffee cups.
Just as parents use their coffee cup for awareness and stimulation to get through the day, our children also have an internal cup that needs filling in order for them to feel safe and secure. Our children’s cups are filled by us, their caregivers, as they prepare to face the outside world every day. Providing them with a safe haven through comfort, connection, and protection fills their cups, and creates secure attachments with us, their caregivers. A full cup gives our children the courage to explore the world around them, and with these secure attachments, they are more likely to flourish in their social and emotional development.
When children’s cups are full, they tend to be open to exploring, exhibiting curiosity, and adventuring away from their safe haven. When a child’s cup runs empty, they will turn to us, seeking a re-fill. When a child’s cup runs empty, it presents as difficult emotions – being upset, angered, or in a depressed state. It is important to recognize these emotions, as they can signal that your child is seeking more connection with you. Filling your child’s emotional cup is just as vital as ensuring your child’s basic needs are met.
After-school conversations with your children may present in a variety of different ways throughout the school year – some excitement in sharing their day with you, some days they are upset or angered and have an empty cup. As a parent caught up in the bustle of these routines, it can be easy to overlook our children’s emotions and sometimes we ignore, dismiss, or respond in unfavourable ways. Acknowledging, talking, connecting, and comforting can be pivotal in teaching our children that is it okay to have feelings, and that you are a secure person to turn to when exploring them.
Play is an excellent way to fill your child’s emotional cup. Through play, children can express their feelings, be creative, and engage in enjoyment. Children have the desire and need to feel their caregivers are happy to be with them. As a caregiver, filling your child’s cup can be a reciprocal process because as you spend time and delight in being with your child, the sense of connection refills your own cup.
JFSC’s Family Enrichment Program offers in-home parenting support and works with families to foster secure attachments with their children. We recognize that families play a key role in the development of children and adolescents, and aim to promote protective factors such as fostering secure attachments and social emotional competence of children. Our aim is to help develop healthy family environments that are supportive of positive individual and collective growth and development.
For more information about JFSC’s Family Enrichment Program, go to www.jfsc.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 403-287-3510.
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