Helping Children Cope with Change

Monday, June 13, 2016
I will be the first to admit, I don't usually like change. I know, I know, change is good. Change is growth. And usually, even though I might not like it, I try to embrace it and go with it. But sometimes, change elicits anxiety, worry and a little FREAKING out on my end. I may or may not have passed this trait to my eldest- Sophia. Bless her heart. She is like me in so many ways, the bad and good. And she is with me on the whole change thing. Sophia was the one kid who at the end of her Kindergarten year was actually bummed out. She didn't want to leave Kindergarten or her teacher. Don't let the smiles fool you- when talking to her about going to 1st grade, she still gets all gloomy and sad. She's always been a- dip her toe in before jumping in- kind of gal- she takes after my own heart. Saidey- on the other hand- jumps first and then thinks about it. With two ends of the spectrum, I've found that either way, there are some things I can do to ease them both into change.


1.) Talk about the Change

Now, with this, there is a certain balance you have to find here. I've found that sometimes you can actually invoke MORE anxiety by preparing TOO far ahead of time, so you have to find the right time. Kids have a hard time with the concept of time so starting to prep them for an event or change occurring far into the future can actually backfire on you (trust- me I've got personal experience). You live and learn, right?! When we decided that Sophia would do KidsWest this Summer and Fall, we planted the seed when we decided by asking her thoughts on it. After that, we didn't speak anything of it until a few weeks before Summer break. We talked about not going to Audra's anymore and that she would instead, go to KidsWest. For Saidey, we started talking about her "new" school.

2.) Preparation

So, now that you've started talking about the change, you can start preparing for the change. We do this in a couple of ways and depending on the type of change. Some helpful tips are to take them to the new place (childcare, school, house, etc). We toured Saidey's new child care center with her and this time we weren't able to but if you can, ask the child care provider if you can spend an afternoon there with your kiddo to ease the transition, too. For Sophia- we drove to the building she would be spending the Summer in. If I was thinking ahead, I would have also requested information about the staff, so she knew their names, too.

3.) Visuals

Sometimes, visuals are so helpful! Showing pictures of a house, building or school are helpful in that they provide the children with a tangible visual surrounding the change. My sister recently moved to Chicago and so when explaining her move, we showed Sophia where Chicago is on a map. If and whenever we decide to move, we will show the girls pictures of the new house.

4.) Comfort Items

When transitioning to the unfamiliar, sometimes bringing something familiar eases change and transition, too. Depending on your kiddo's disposition, a comfort item may be helpful. Whether it's a favorite blanket or stuffed animal or even a picture, these items can significantly ease the uncomfortableness that can be change.

5.) Routine

Lastly, routine is so important. Quite often, change disrupts our normal routines. Getting back into a routine as quickly as possible can help ease the change, too. Prepping kids by sharing what that routine is and then following it (obviously allowing for flexibility, too) helps them regain consistency and assurance that things will be ok.


End of Day 1 of a new child care center and school age summer program was a SUCCESS! 

So, there ya have it! My 5 tips for helping your kiddos' cope with change. What would you add? 


9 comments:

  1. I think one thing that some parents don't understand, even about their own child(ren) is that they are much smaller minds and they don't grasp and deal with change the same way adults do. You have to explain and show things on their level. :) Love this! Thanks for sharing the topic!

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    1. Hi Jacqueline! Thanks for visiting! It's hard to sometimes remember that our kiddos' behaviors could be due to change so anything to help ease that, has helped us! Thanks for visiting!

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  2. Great post and that pic is just too cute!! We try to maintain somewhat of a routine also when change is happening, unfortunately we have to fly back and forth between spain and the netherlands a lot these months due to family circumstances so change at this point is constant for the little guy.

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  3. I agree. I think the best one is the comfort item and taking to kids about the change.

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    1. The comfort item is a MUST in our house! =) Thanks for visiting, Sophia!

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  4. These are all great tips to help your child deal with change. We're getting ready to switch preschools for our toddler, and these will definitely come in handy. A new routine, new place, and most importantly, new faces. It's never easy when you're trying to find the best for your children, but it's well-worth it in the end.

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  5. What a great post! I found your site on FB!

    I have twin toddlers and I'm freaking out about next year when they go to school! They've never done day care or away from me during mom-and-tot activities.

    I have no clue how to prepare them to be away from me and family? The only thing is enrolling them in daycare one or two days a week to get them adjusted, but is that enough?

    My twins are also hesitant to play with other children – just each other. Makes sense, but how will they cope at school?

    Your tips will definitely be helpful next summer for sure. I really like the visuals suggestion and getting the names of the teachers :-)

    Thanks
    Elna

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    1. Hi Elna! Thanks for visiting! Those are great questions! I think it sort of depends on your kiddo's personalities. Are they slow to warm up to strangers or other people, even when you are with them? I think starting off slow, like 1-2 days a week is a good start. Sometimes, our kiddos surprise us and do so much better than we expected! I think all you can do is talk about the changes, maybe do a comfort item, or even pictures of family, and introduce them to other kiddos/situations when you can! Thanks for visiting!

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