Whether it’s a new home, new school, new class or new baby, changes can affect children in many different ways. Some children become sullen, some children begin to act out, some children seek attention and some children all but attempt to disappear. Thankfully there are many ways that parents can help kids adjust to change.
Giving kids time to work through the differences, ensuring that the change brings some benefits to the child and setting clear boundaries for children are just a few of the ways that adults can help kids adjust to change.
Giving Kids Time
No one can absorb the full implications of a change overnight, so expecting children to fly through changes is unrealistic. Instead, parents should expect to give their kids time to understand what is happening, what it will mean for them, what it will mean for the family and how it will change their lives and/or routines.
While adults may be able to work through these possibilities logically, children usually need to experience them to understand them. Parents can help children with these lessons by talking with them every step of the way and ensuring that children understand all of the implications of the changes.
Ensuring that Change Brings Benefits
There’s not a person alive that likes it when their life changes for the worse, so an important way that parents can help their children adjust to change is to make sure that somehow, in some way, the change adds something to the child’s life.
For example, if a child is unhappy about proceeding to the next class at school, parents can attach a special privilege to the move to help children understand that growing up is inevitable, but more rights and responsibilities are attached to getting older.
Similarly, children who must adjust to a new baby in the house can soon learn the many rights and responsibilities of being an older sibling. Ensuring that children understand how the benefits relate to the change will help them understand these larger associations.
Setting Clear Boundaries
Children like boundaries, and maintaining a sense of order during an upheaval in their lives will help them feel as though they still retain some control and they still have a routine to follow. This usually helps children stay calmer as they know what to expect and what is expected of them.
For example, when moving into a new house parents who enforce the same rules – no straying from the garden, no playing in the attic, picking up all toys in the play room – remind their children that the same things are expected of them regardless of where they are which in turn provides children with a sense of security.
Some children are able to deal with changes with minimal disruption, but many children experience significant discomfort during periods of change. Parents can do much to help their children adjust to changes including giving kids time to work through the changes, ensuring that changes bring benefits to the children’s lives and setting clear boundaries for their children throughout.