Change is a constant, it is the one thing we can always count on. Many times, we are prepared for changes such as a move, or a transition from the school year to a summer and vice versa. The most important thing we need to instill in our children as we help them learn to cope with change is that many changes we experience are good changes. Change is healthy.
Preparing our children for change is an important skill. It is beneficial to teach them at an early change as these changes are often easier to arrange. It is a skill that everyone has to learn and continue to work on. Below are some strategies to help teach and prepare your children to accept changes.
Give Notice in Advance
Begin by informing your children of the change. Be sure to talk to them about the change and what it means for them. If it is a change in their schedule let them know what to expect from this change. For example, if Mom will begin picking the child from school as opposed to another family member, be sure they are prepared and reminded of this. Give as much notice as you can and continue to remind them of the change. If you have a family calendar, a visual reminder like marking it on the calendar would be beneficial and serve as a reference point. For some children, having a countdown to something new may be exciting.
Answer Any Questions They May Have
Children are inquisitive by nature, they are constantly exploring and learning new things about their world every day. It is natural for them to have question about why a change is happening. Do your best to answer all of their questions to the best of your ability and understand that they may ask the same questions more than once. This is okay. Very similar to us adults, we sometimes need to hear things multiple times for it to really sink in and for us to understand.
Use small steps
Fading in large changes by dividing them into smaller changes may be helpful as well. For example, if your child is starting school full-time in the fall attending a day program a few days a week at first to get them use to the new routines would help with the shift. They could even start with half days and then transition to full days. If you need to change any daily routines, change only a part of the routine at a time. Once they are comfortable with one change, you can make additional changes following that need to be made.
One Environment Is Changing, Keep Other Environments the Same
This can be challenging if you are trying to prepare your children for a big change (i.e. a move to a different city or state) where everything will be changing for them. You can continue to keep smaller things the same, like a bedroom set up to try to recreate that in their new bedroom. Many children have items and toys that can be kept consistent in their new environment as well. Exploring your new environments together can be very beneficial as well teaching them that the changes bring new and exciting places and things to explore and enjoy.
Be Prepared to Embrace The Change
Preparing yourself to best understand that your child may have a difficult time with the changes. They need you to help them understand why change is something that we all should cope with and that some changes are more challenging than others. Be sure to give yourself additional time if you anticipate that the change in routine may upset your child and be sure to build in additional time to work through it.
Use the Resources
When searching “how to teach children about change” over 300,000,000 links come up from articles to blog from teachers and parents. Every child is different and some of these strategies may work for some children, but you know your child best. It is important that you find the strategy or strategies that will work best for your child.