We all know life is not a linear line and comes with lots of upheaval and change, which can lift us or pull us down. As adults, we learn to adapt, refocus, and work through these significant life changes. But that doesn’t make change any easier to deal with.
Imagine being a child who is witnessing and living through the same disruptions; things may seem more unstable and scarier in a significantly uprooting kind of way. Divorce, moving house, starting a new school, and even welcoming a new baby can all be complex changes for a child, so how can we help our kids adapt to these big adjustments?
Help Them Prepare
No one likes change landed on them. Give your child enough time to prepare and process the change. We can’t expect our kids to lean into big life events with positivity and simply go along with it. They will have big emotions and feelings which they may not understand or know how to verbalise. Talk to them about their concerns and worries, help them manage their expectations, put words to their feelings, and begin coming to terms with and accepting that the change is happening.
Keep Them In The Loop
With big changes, children often feel out of control and out of the loop. To ensure they feel needed and valued, make them a part of the process. For example, ask them what colours they would like their new bedroom to be painted, if they have any ideas for baby names, what schoolbag they would like, or what kind of lunch they'd like for their first at a new school. By giving them opportunities to participate in the decision-making process, they will feel they have helped and contributed to the big change.
With any intense change, our kids need roots to help keep them grounded. But while our kids are processing the change, we may be under significant stress or pressure ourselves. So try to set aside time for connection. Make sure your child knows that although change is occurring, you are there for them, love them, and will remain consistent in their lives. They need as much stability as possible in times of disruption, so keep routines and structure while ensuring connection. In this way, your child still has a sense of safety.
Remind Them Change Is Okay
Change always feels daunting, especially when we are happy and comfortable with the way things are. Children like things to be predictable, and big changes certainly upset the apple cart. Remind them about when change happened before, such as starting big school, when their little brother was born, or when you adopted pet rabbits. Talk to them about how the change felt, what happened, and how everything worked out in the end.