We all know that change happens. It’s inevitable in life, and recent events have meant we have all experienced a lot of change in a short time. None more so than our children who have seen, and continue to see significant changes to their regular routine.
However, many children struggle with change. It’s scary and unfamiliar.
Parents, though, can help their children learn how to cope with change. As they do, they will be teaching their children a valuable life lesson.
Here are six insightful ways you can help your child cope with change.
1. Assure your child that change is okay
Help your child understand that change is normal and nothing bad. Although the present is comforting and familiar, that doesn’t mean that the future can’t be either.
Try to assure your child that change can be positive, not negative. And help them to embrace the experience. One way to do this is by role-modelling how you deal with change. If your child sees you taking a positive perspective towards change, they will want to emulate that.
2. Provide them with examples of change
Go over the ways they regularly experience change in their lives. For example, your child undergoes small changes throughout their day—waking up, eating breakfast, leaving home for school. All of these activities require moving from one state of being to another.
Also, help your child see that they experience change in school all the time. Helping your child to recognize the changes they already live with can help them understand that change is a normal part of everyday lives.
3. Help your child imagine change
Try using this exercise to help your child cope with change:
Ask them to take a moment to think about what they would change about their lives. Then, have them write those ideas down. Next, go over the list with your child. Some of the changes may be unrealistic, such as never having to go to school again. But others may be quite reasonable.
Allow your child to pick some of the attainable changes and implement them. By letting them make changes they’re in control of right now, they can be better prepared when changes happen that they’re not expecting.
4. Empower your child when change happens
Another way to empower your child when change occurs is by giving them some authority to make their own decisions. For example, let’s say that your family is moving to a new home. That can be a significant change for a child. They may not want to move and, therefore, resist.
Perhaps you can empower your child by allowing them to decide which room will be theirs. Or by giving them the chance to choose how they want to decorate their new room. They’ll probably be more accepting if they feel they are part of the process.
5. Give them a chance to grieve
Most change involves some form of loss, even if it’s only loss of routine, and children might need space to process that loss. Sometimes they will cry and act out when change happens. Don’t chastise them for it. Allow them the space to grieve and feel those emotions. Telling them to bottle up those feelings can be detrimental later on. That’s because it teaches them that experiencing negative emotions is wrong.
Instead, let your child know that it’s alright to grieve. And be the calming presence they need while they are experiencing this change.
6. Show your child how to honour the past
Often, people find ways to honour the past while transitioning to a new chapter of life. That’s why we have graduation ceremonies, weddings, birthdays, and even funerals.
When your child is facing a life-changing moment, you can help them by creating a ceremony together. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it should have meaning. Let your child be the one to direct how the ceremony should occur.
If they have a part for you, be an enthusiastic participant. It will help them create the closure they need to move forward.
Change can’t be avoided, but it doesn’t have to be scary. You will be doing your child a great service by teaching them how to face change in a healthy way. It’s a skill they will need to master for all of the changes—both good and bad—that will happen in their life.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay