How To Help A Child Handle Change
We all know that change is inevitable in our lives and affects us all in different ways, but specifically, change can be harder on a child. It's somewhat difficult to expect a child to handle change so as adults how can we minimize a possible negative impact of change on our children?
Our children will usually take their cue from their parents or other family members so we need to be sure to set the right tone and lead by example. Don't let the children see you frazzled or upset when things go wrong during a change. As we lead our children through change we need to seek input from them - how they're feeling, what they are thinking, and what can we do to make them feel a part of the change, especially if it affects them directly. One of the greatest challenges for children during times of change is uncertainty about what to expect and how they will be affected.
Regardless if the change will affect them positively or may be somewhat hard to swallow, we need to have clear communication which is essential. For their little ears, hearts and minds we must use language that is positive as well as keep them in the loop concerning any decisions that have been made.
With change comes anxiety which can be handled in several ways.
- Make sure the environment / atmosphere is as calm as possible.
- Make sure logistics of the change are as organized as possible. When things appear to be in disarray people get frustrated, confused, irritable and sometimes exhausted.
- Watch what you and your children are eating during the time of change. Believe it or not some foods can contribute to adverse behavior and mood swings. Choose light foods such as salads, fruits, vegetables, chicken or veggie wraps, soups, etc. Drink water and have flavored water for the kids.
- Make sure you and the children get plenty of rest in a comfortable place; it may not be a familiar place if you're moving the family, but you can make it as comfortable as possible.
- Hug one another or hold each others' hands. This might sound real simple, but when change is taking place a touch from Dad, Mom or another sibling is comforting.
Here are some tips to help a child handle change:
- Involve them in the planning and implementing process, if possible.
- Let them know possible outcomes of the change(s).
- Let them know what you think the change will mean for them and listen to their reactions.
- Allow the child to talk about their feelings, especially when they feel they are losing something because of the change(s).
- Prepare the child for the change(s).
- Find successes, if there are any, in the change(s).
- If the child resists the change treat the resistance as a problem and not as though the child has a character flaw.
I remember as a child when my Mom and I moved away leaving my older brother and sister, who were grown. I was used to all of us living together. My Mom always talked about where we were moving and about our friends that lived in that area of the country, and that she would make sure we had a big enough house just in case my brother and sister wanted to come live with us. Guess what? I learned that family sure will follow you, and I was happy.