Helping Children Adapting to Change
Change for anyone can be a huge process bringing many emotions but it can also be difficult helping children adapting to change.. I find that as I get older dealing with change can bring on more anxiety and stress. Dealing with change during my twenties was almost embraced with open arms. Coping with change can be a very positive experience. In many cases change is exciting but within that can still be the uncertainty of the unknown. If we as adults feel this, then it can bring a period of adjustment and stress for a child.
One of my daughters’ beautiful teachers once wrote some notes about her while she was drawing a self-portrait. As she was drawing she discussed her drawing and her explanation of it, that her family was her whole world and she constructs her identity through her family. Having two children of my own has made me so aware of the impact that family has on you as a child. It is vital when there is a change for kids within the family that they feel okay with it.
Of course, change is not the same for everyone, nor is everyone’s situation. Coping with change can be very different for different families. It may not be a simple process and take some time to work through the process.
In some situations, this could be the first time in their lives that there is a major change. Everything about their lives could be changing such as their house, their school, their friends, their family unit.
Before these changes occur it is important that the children feel as safe and secure about these changes as possible. New friends, new neighbours, new areas to discover and explore are all part of the adventure but new beginnings and leaving comfort zones are scary and sometimes daunting and can take time to work through.
Building Resilience in our children is really important in helping with change in their lives and if you would like to read further on that you can read my article on Building Resilience in our children.
These are some of the things we are doing to help the kids adjust to a new lifestyle and adapting to change:
I have found that if both my kids are able to picture and see the changes this has been a huge help. We have talked about dealing with change for some time but as their bedrooms, house and school are all they know it is difficult for them to imagine any other way. I have found by including them in the process and showing them all the new places such as schools, new house, new shops etc they now can picture where they will be and picture themselves going there. We tried to involve them in looking at the houses and asking them what they liked and didn’t like. This helped us find the process exciting as well as being able to see us living there.
The more you talk with the children about the change the better. This really helps with adapting to change. It is important for the kids to know that this means change for you as an adult as well and that is okay to feel nervous or unsure about the changes. Everyone experiences it. Talking about their feelings and how it makes them feel is very important. Giving examples of the changes and what may be different is also great too.
Children love and thrive on routine and knowing what is going to happen next. During periods of change, their routine can be thrown out the window. It is important to try and keep as much as possible the same. Even if it is little things like still having dinner at the dining table every evening, or keeping the bedtime routine the same. Letting them do the normal things they normally do after school or on the weekends. Keeping certain aspects of their life the same makes it much easier for them to adjust. Knowing that their family environment is still a safe and secure place for them to be.
During periods of adjustment, they may need you to be a little more patient! This can be hard when you also have a lot on your plate. Nighttime and a new bedroom will be a big deal for some children. Spending a few extra minutes with them, putting a night light in the corridor. Playing some soft music playing will help them settle into their new bedroom quickly. I have bought some new special wall decals and furniture for their room so straight away they will be excited and see it as a positive experience. They can then also make their room their own.
I know that with my son if things are different he can get stressed or just throw his hands up in the air. It is important for kids to see you adapt to new changes and see that they can adapt too. If something is different don’t throw your hands in the air, teach them examples of how we can enjoy the new changes and different ways of doing things. Make the changes fun.
Has your family gone through big changes?
How have your children coped with adapting to change?