“In any given moment we have two options:
to step forward into growth or step back into safety.”
Change is tough. Even for the strongest of adults, life’s transitions can be extremely stressful and anxiety-inducing. For children, those same changes can be devastating. If you are working through any big change, such as a move, the loss of a family member or a divorce, try using these five methods to support your child during the transition.
- Communicate What’s to Come
Your child is probably feeling uneasy and uncertain, wondering how to move forward. As the adult in this situation, you may have more knowledge of what the future will look like. So, it’s your responsibility to reassure your little one that everything will be ok. While it’s not necessary to share more information than your child can maturely process, you can explain how certain changes will affect your family by giving concrete examples of how things will be different.
- Provide a Source of Routine
Children find comfort in routine. It helps manage expectations, allowing children to feel secure and safe to let their guard down. Consequently, when a major change rocks one part of their world, everything else should remain as consistent as possible. Even if you are in a new location, with different people, try to recreate positive traditions from home. Morning and bedtime routines are two great occasions that many children rely on. If your family held a weekly game night or always saw a movie over the weekend, try to keep those staples in tact.
- Provide an Outlet
Everyone needs a place to escape, whether it be physical or mental. Your child may be experiencing a lot of negative emotions that are in dire need of balance. Make a list of fun things your child enjoys and form a habit of bringing those hobbies to life. Even if your child is not in the mood to have fun, you can provide an alternative outlet for those by seeking a child therapist who can approach the matter professionally.
- Check on Your Child’s Emotional Well-Being
Don’t be afraid to ask your child how they are feeling. While hearing the answer may hurt, your little one needs to be able to be open and honest in a safe space. You understand better that anyone exactly what your child is going through and you can provide the emotional support that they need. Also keep in mind, it’s normal if your child isn’t ready to talk or doesn’t know how to articulate their feelings. In those moments, simply reiterate that you are there to listen, whenever they feel ready.
- Be Patient with Setbacks
The process of adapting to life changes can be a roller coaster ride, full of ups and downs. The journey isn’t always linear. Know there will be days where you feel the months of progress made only resulted in needing to start back at square one. If you become frustrated or overwhelmed with the setbacks, take a few moments to collect yourself and renew your patience. Though the journey may be long, it will end is a better place than it started.
Sometimes we find our children wrapped up in the middle of adult issues before they have the tools to cope with them. Change and transition can usher in complex emotions that neither of you predicted. However, with these five supportive tips, you and your little one will start to see the sun emerge from behind the clouds. And remember, a little love and patience goes a long way.