10 Tips To Help Your Children Cope With Change
Looking for tips to help your children cope with change? Read on!
Changes – whether positive or negative – are inevitable in life, but that doesn’t make them any easier for children (or adults) to cope with. When a child feels safe in a comfort zone, new experiences like graduating from primary school and enrolling into a new middle school, moving to a new country/city or losing a parent can be destabilizing. Children respond to change in different ways. Some wet the bed, become anxious, withdrawn, angry or clingy, while others have difficulty sleeping, experience stomach pain or headaches, or develop monophobia. In such cases, these children need extra support in understanding their feelings, addressing their fears and building resilience during big life changes. Here are 10 tips to help your children cope and feel safe.
1. Acknowledge Their Feelings
As a parent, if you notice a change in your child’s behaviour, don’t ignore it. Instead, encourage them to tell you how they are feeling. Because of their young age, they may not have the right words to label their emotions. Saying things like, “You look upset/scared” can help. Tell them that it’s OK to feel like that. You can also read advice on ways to provide emotional support to children when they are feeling sad, anxious or scared.
2. Listen to Their Concerns
Take time to listen to your child’s grieves. If they struggle to talk or express their feelings, ask what might make them feel better. Prompt them: “Would it make you feel better to have some ice cream or lie down and read a book?” Make sure you don’t look tense in order for the child to feel safe. Remain calm and don’t get too emotional.
3. Talk About What Is Changing
Children may imagine many things when thinking about a new situation. Let’s take a case where your child is just about to graduate from primary school and start middle school in a new school. He/she may be reluctant to take on this challenge, or to meet new teachers and classmates. In this situation, consider learning all that you can about the new school by either attending an informational webinar online, or visiting the school in person so that you can relay this information to your child. Tell them what to expect, both good and bad, and explain how the change may affect your lives. Always look for the positive! Talk about the new friends they will make, the curriculum, and if the school in question is international, explain the programme, the diploma, as well as the doors that the school will open for them, in the future.
4. Get Them Involved
It’s easier for children to deal with change when they are prepared for it in advance. You should explain why the change is necessary as well as the advantages. Get them involved in making decisions (such as how their bedroom will be decorated in a new house).
5. Reassure Them
Make sure your kid knows that no matter what else changes, you are there for them. A little extra attention doing something you both enjoy – playing or watching a movie – reassures your child, making it much easier for them to cope with life’s changes.
6. Praise Them Frequently
Praise can boost the child’s confidence and increase their motivation. It can inspire children to be more resilient, cooperative, and hard-working. An enthusiastic exclamation like (“wow! I love you the way you handle this new situation”) or a supportive gesture (like a high five) can help them feel happy and safe.
7. Play With Them
What better way of working through stress and change than playing? Make jokes, laugh, do stuff together so that your child knows the bond you have isn’t going anywhere. Head outside for a game, encourage physical activity or cook together. Take part in any positive activity that pleases your child.
8. Maintain Routines
During a big change, try to keep things the same as much as possible so that your children may feel safe and stable. Make sure your child’s mealtimes and bedtimes remain consistent. Engaging in your usual activities also helps in restoring a sense of safety.
9. Teach Coping Skills
Learning strategies to cope with difficult situations is an important skill. Typical coping strategies include problem-solving (finding a way to make the situation better), slow deep breaths (for relaxation), distraction (thinking about something else), and positive self-talk (telling yourself it will all be OK).
10. Teach Them How To Bounce Back
You should show your child positive ways to deal with stress. This process is known as resilience. For example, before your child moves to a new school, arrange for her to visit the new teacher and children. Some schools have “Orientation Days” or weeks (all Enko schools have) to help students and parents navigate this new environment. Talk with your child’s teacher or child care provider to keep them in the loop and get support.
It is important for parents to teach their children how to cope with change. Although they may still take some time to come to terms with major life changes like a big move or a divorce, it makes things much easier on both you and your children. Looking for additional resources? Check out our essential tips to enhance students’ well-being.