Kids often struggle with change, whether it be moving to a new house, separation of parents, loss of a loved one or a new family member. Adapting to changes in life is inevitable and an important skill, here are a few tips to help them through it.
1. Talk to them about what the new change will be like
For example, show them pictures of a new house, explain how the new living arrangement will work etc. Give them plenty of opportunity, well before the change occurs, to ask questions as this will help clear up uncertainty and worry.
2. Put routines in place
Establish routines for parts of the child’s life e.g. morning routine, bed time or dinner routine etc. Change can often make kids feel like they are out of control, routines give them consistency and sets boundaries when things might be a bit chaotic elsewhere in their lives.
3. Schedule one-on-one time with the child
All kids need one-on-one time with a parent and this is especially important when they are going through change. Whether it’s something special like going to the zoo together or simply talking to them while you’re cooking dinner, they need alone time with a parent for a strong connection.
4. Stick to your guns when challenging behaviour arises
When a child is adapting to new circumstances, they can often respond with challenging behaviour. This can be how they communicate that they are struggling with the change. It can be tempting to change your approach or give in when the child becomes difficult. However, it’s important to keep rules and boundaries in place when this occurs, the behaviour will pass if you keep the same approaches in place and don’t give in.
5. Constant communication is key
Children can often struggle with mixed feelings about change or experience complicated emotions that are not yet in their repertoire. Talk them through it. Acknowledge that they might be feeling guilty to be having a good time without mum around or that they are nostalgic about the old house etc. Kids learn how to organise their thoughts and emotions from how caregivers talk to them about it. Make sure there is plenty of opportunity to discuss things even after the change is over.
6. Aim for mostly right, most of the time
Change is bound to bring a few mistakes here and there, not all parenting decisions will go to plan. Aim to get it mostly right, most of the time. Kids are resilient even when they don’t look it.
If you feel as though you’ve been doing what you can and feel as though you need further guidance then give us a call to make an appointment with one of our team of Psychologists.
~ Article written by Rosie Lucarelli - Psychologist here at Melbourne Wellbeing Group.