Life is full of changes, ranging from big and challenging transitions to minor shifts, with positive and sometimes negative effects. Children are especially sensitive to them. Therefore, it's always wise to think things through and seek ways to help them cope with relocation, the death of a loved one, divorce, etc. Children are constantly growing and experiencing new things, so it's worth taking some time to think about how you can help your kids deal with change. This article will share a couple of valuable tips.
Ways to support your children through change
It's a well-known fact that children thrive on routines and consistency.
For instance, if you are about to move with your kids, think of ways to make it easy on them. Talk to them before the big event and include them in some relocation-related activities, like packing and unpacking.
Let's see how you can help your kids deal with change in a healthy manner.
Allow some time
Be a good listener
Try sticking to a routine
Ensure they get proper nutrition and sleep
Provide time for connection and play
Offer autonomy and choices
Talk about different types of changes, read books, sing songs
Let them know when it's close
Be positive and open to new experiences
Some sudden changes are impossible to prepare for. However, when preparation is an option, give your kid time to digest the new situation. This way, you will allow them to process and accept the change.
Additionally, you will familiarize your kid with the "unfamiliar." For example, if you are relocating and think you've found the right school abroad, take your child to see it. You could have teachers meet them in advance and chat about a typical day at school and the activities that await. This way, your child will know what to expect, which is a big deal in their eyes.
If you are expecting another baby, you could do some of the following:
show them their pictures when they were babies or toddlers;
read books about growing families;
talk about what to expect when the baby comes;
be positive and point out how your kids can be great big sisters or brothers.
On the other hand, if you are divorcing your partner, take your kid to see where the other parent will be living. Our friends from Teddy Moving and Storage suggest showing the child their room. Based on their clients' experiences, it also helps to involve the child in unpacking and decorating their new space.
Help your kids deal with change by listening
When faced with change, children usually have a bunch of questions - make sure to answer as many as you can!
Kids need understanding and empathy. So, if you want to help your kid cope with the transition, acknowledge their feelings and do not distract them. Help them label their emotions, and don't judge the negative ones.
If your child is changing schools, try playing out possible scenarios and talk about how they might feel and what could happen. Or, if your kid is worried about spending time with the other parent after divorce, buy them a calendar mark those days with stickers.
Keep your routine the same
When facing a significant transition, it's easy to lose track of your life completely. However, this is where you need to pay special attention and keep the rest of your daily life as predictable as possible.
When facing a divorce or moving homes, it's easy to introduce numerous new things, which could lead to your child feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
On the other hand, routine and consistency are closely connected to safety. So, try to keep bed and mealtimes the same. If your child goes to sports or dance classes, try finding similar activities in your new town.
Ensure they get enough sleep and eat healthily
Behavior changes are not uncommon in children. To avoid stressing everyone out, make sure your little ones get enough sleep and eat properly.
Caption: One of the ways to help your kids deal with change is to make sure they eat nutritious meals and get enough sleep.
Another crucial thing that shouldn't change is your child's connection with you. It is vital for them to be aware that you won't be going anywhere even though everything around you is changing.
Caption: Quality time with your child should be a priority.
Sometimes even ten minutes of one-on-one time is enough. Be sure to maintain eye contact, do not let anything distract you, and remain affectionate and open.
The same goes if you have a teenager. The key is to provide them with your time and attention. For example, you could watch a movie, play a video game, or go out for a meal.
Give them choices to create a sense of autonomy
When facing a significant change, you might feel like you're losing control over your life - children are no different. Therefore, give your kid some sense of power by giving them choices.
For example, let them decide what outfit they want to wear on the first day of school, what color they want for their walls, etc.
The same goes for asking your child for help. From a very early age, kids love to contribute because it makes them feel valued and included. So, be sure to give them a few age-appropriate tasks each day.
Finally, it's usually up to us as parents to set the tone for the change we are facing. That's why you shouldn't be afraid to act silly and goofy during challenging times, as it will help lift the spirits.
Caption: One of the ways to help your kids deal with change is to make room for new experiences.
So, if you are moving, be sure to do something fun to learn about your new neighborhood and allow your kids to familiarize themselves with the place. They might make new friends at the park sooner than you.
Final thoughts on how to help your kids deal with change
Ultimately, it's all about remaining calm, positive, and reflective about the new change. As you're already looking for ways to help your kids deal with change, you are off to a good start! Good luck!