Change is a big part of growing up, actually, it is a big part of all stages of life, but as a child, change is something that has not been seen before. If there are some big changes coming to your child’s life then we have laid out some ways for you to help them prepare.
The first thing to note is that you should be very understanding of a child’s fear of change. Look at how badly some adults deal with change and consider that they have been dealing with change all their life. We should expect children to cope terribly and anything better than that is a win. If you think about a child growing up. From birth, they are becoming familiar with the surroundings they are in, the people they know. These things give them security, bring them peace.
They have not yet learned that while it is good to have security in certain things, other things should be allowed to change. Therefore every change is a learning opportunity to realize what is important in life and how to deal with things changing. For the sake of this article let’s imagine the change is moving house, but it could be anything. It could be a new car, it could be a new teacher, it could be a new bottle.
Whatever the change is you should try and ensure that it is not a surprise. Of course, if their favorite blanket is ruined and you buy them a new one, there is little preparation you can make about that but as best you can, let them know changes are coming in the future. If you are moving house, start to get them excited about the move months in advance. Talk to them about how big their room will be, how they will be able to have extra toys, all things they like and that will make them feel secure.
Don’t be surprised if this tactic works at first but as the day draws closer and closer their fear and anxiety about the change start to increase. Remember something that they have depended on since birth is now going to dramatically change, of course, they are panicking. Imagine how nervous you would be about losing a finger and you may understand how scared they feel.
Allow this to happen and try to talk to in an understanding manner to your children. The key here is not to give them the usual nonsense comforting answers. “It will be fine”, “You are going to love it” “Don’t worry about a thing” are all useless to them. You need to understand where their fears are grounded and deal with both the surface and underlying fear. If they are old enough and brave enough to talk a lot, it makes that bit easier. If they are quiet children you will have to work it out and guess a little.
If they are afraid of a new room and don’t know how it will be, show them pictures, start to tell them where the bed will be, where they can hang posters, where they can play games. If they are afraid of being further from friends, talk to them about how people can visit, how you will visit people, and how technology can be used to help. Whatever their base fear is, address it, but serve the underlying fear too. If it is about losing friends, then it is not just about the friends gone but a fear of not being able to make friends in the new place and a loss of attachment to people. Encourage them that everything will be fine by walking through how the new house will look and feel.
The key to accepting change is to understand and visualize it. Once you do that you take away all the exaggerated fears that can’t be helped. Your child may need some extra pampering during this strange time, be there to give it to them. This is a huge change and you should do whatever it takes to make them feel comfortable in a changing environment.