Change isn’t easy to deal with. That’s true whether you’re three, or sixty-three. There’s no denying, though, that children find change harder to deal with than most adults. That’s probably because they’ve had to deal with less of it in their short lives. Plus, everything seems a lot larger when you’re little. Especially those big scary changes! Instead of shying away from change, it’s your parental responsibility to help them process and adapt. When handled in the right way, change is essential for helping your children to grow. And no, we don’t mean out of their clothes, again! We are, of course, talking about them growing emotionally. So, how is the right way to deal with change in a child’s life?
A lot of a child’s fear of change comes from a lack of understanding. Children think in simple terms. If they were happy with how things were, they might be unable to see why anything has to change. That’s why it’s important you explain to them what’s happening and why. The way you go about this will vary depending on the change. It may be that you and your partner are divorcing. Or, maybe the change is something as simple as moving schools. Or is a relocation on the cards? One thing’s sure, you don’t want to wait until the moving company is there to explain what’s happening. Make sure you keep your child informed throughout, whatever the change is. Information is critical. Explain what’s happening at every stage. The more your child knows, the less chance of them getting an unpleasant surprise.
HAVE YOU GOT THE ANSWERS?
Children are inquisitive by nature. It’s how they learn. After you’ve explained, be ready for the questions your kids might throw at you. With change, those endless ‘why,’ queries take on a whole new meaning. Try to consider what your child will ask before they ask it. That way, you can give an appropriate response. You may be busy planning whatever has caused the change, but always be available for questioning. Never brush away a query or reply with ‘we’ll talk about it later.’ Keeping the lines of communication open is essential. Not having their questions answered will leave your kids full of doubt.
It’s also important to support your children’s emotional needs. When you become a parent, you made a commitment always to put your child first. If you’re separating, you may feel as though you have more important things to worry about. The simple answer is, you don’t. Your child’s emotions come before your own. You may feel like the injured party, but you made a conscious choice. Your kids didn’t. Even when you feel like falling apart, keep it together for them! If the change is something like a new school, support them by reassuring them. Try to focus on exciting aspects, like new friends and a new school uniform. Distracting them in this way will stop them worrying about the scary stuff.