Life is full of changes and helping your child cope with those changes can be difficult. Children need routines and when a major life event or change occurs it may alter their daily routine. Adjusting to their new surroundings or schedule may take time and patience. Like adults children need reassurance and comfort when facing new transitions.
Acknowledge your child’s feelings and let them know you’re aware that they are having a difficult time adjusting to a big change. If you are moving and they are sad that they are leaving their friends, don’t tell them to “get over it” or “you will be fine”. Instead, talk to them about how they are feeling and reassure them that it is okay to feel anxious, scared, sad, and nervous. Children often follow their parents lead so be sure to focus on the positives of a change. Your positive attitude is important in helping your child accept a new transition.
Health is also a concern when a family is facing major life changes. Make sure your child is eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise and sleep. You can also practice slow breathing techniques with your child to help them calm down in a stressful situation.
Communicate with your child’s teachers, coaches, or any other child care providers about what changes are going to happen or have happened. These professionals will help be a support system for you and your child and are trained to help with these situations daily. They will be able to help identify if your child has any signs of depression or distress and help make their transition smoother.
When helping toddlers and young children adjust to change use the following tips:
1. Talk about the transition in advance (this helps the child prepare for a big change).
2. Make sure you give your child extra attention during a big transition or change.
3. Keeping a familiar routine will help children ease into a new environment or accept a huge transition in their lives.
4. Keep in contact with your child’s old friends by writing letters or talking on the phone.
5. Be patient; your child may become more clingy and afraid to try new things after they have experienced a huge transition.
It usually takes up to two weeks for a child to adjust to a new change. If you have tried all of the techniques listed above and your child is still not wanting to eat or participate in daily activities then make an appointment with a counselor or your pediatrician. You can visit http://www.aha-now.com/helping-children-cope-with-change/ for more information.