Helping Your Child Adjust To Change

Change is inevitable. We all experience it at different times throughout our life. As adults, change can sometimes bring a mixture of feelings including excitement and/or anxiety. The same is true for children. Kids will respond differently to change depending on what the change is, their temperament, how us as parents respond to the change, as well as other factors. Either way, there are tools you can put into place to help your child adjust to change and to make the transition as smooth as possible. In the video below I discuss 3 tips I have recently used to help my own daughter adjust to a change in her life.

Danielle McCarthy:  Hey guys, Danielle McCarthy here from Mind Potential Psychology. In this video I’m going to be walking you over 3 tips to help your child adjust to change. The reason for this is that we’ve been having a few queries come through the clinic lately about anxiety in children. Also, it’s school holidays at the moment and there is a transition period coming up for a lot of kids as they go back to school. These transition periods can sometimes be a time of anxiety and other difficulties for children. However, there are some things that you can put into place to help this transition be as smooth as possible and to reduce any anxiety that your child might be feeling.

In my personal life, I’ve actually had my daughter who’s not yet three going through a transition. At her daycare she is being moved to another class and today is her first day fully in that class. So that’s been a bit of a transition for her. This got me thinking about a couple of things that I did in the lead-up to make it as smooth as possible.

The first thing I did with my daughter in the lead up to today was I communicated a lot with her.

I knew that this change was coming up for the last few weeks so I regularly chatted to her about it. We talked a lot about what this meant in terms of meeting new friends and doing new activities. She actually ended up being quite excited about it which was really good and today, she was saying she’s going to be learning numbers and doing these new activities and she was really excited. In short, my tip is to communicate, communicate, communicate. My daughter is not yet three and I’m able to communicate to her about it by using simple language. It doesn’t matter what age your child is you can communicate with them, you might just modify the language to their ability to understand and obviously, if the child is a bit older, you don’t have to simplify the language as much. Talk to them about the change and what it means, what the new teachers’ names are, or the new activities they’re going to be doing. This way it starts to become familiar to them and they can start to get a picture of what it’s going to look like.

My second tip is to monitor your own feelings and emotions.

Our children are constantly observing us and responding to our reactions. If they see you being anxious they will likely pick up on that and may think, “Oh, this is something to be anxious or fearful about because look at mum, she’s freaking out.” I recently had to move my daughter from a family daycare where she was so settled. I found this really hard as she was so happy where she was and she knew all the kids, etc. In this instance I really had to monitor my own emotions. It didn’t mean I didn’t have moments of upset or anxiety – I just had these moments and discussions in private with my husband. So monitor your emotions because trust me, your child is always observing and they model your behavior. They’re learning so much from you.

My final tip is to reward your child for positive behaviour.

Maybe it’s when they’re brave or giving things a go and going to their new school or class. I have days when my daughter doesn’t want to go to daycare for whatever reason. In these instances we talk about it and I will often let her know that we will go to the park or do her favourite activity (e.g., play hide-and-seek) when she gets home. These are little rewards that cost me no money – but to her they are the best!

These are my 3 tips for you to help your child adjust to change. I’ve already told my daughter that when she gets home today I can’t wait to hear all about her day and the names of some of the new kids in her new class.

I hope you found this useful and you can put something here into place to help your child adjust to their next transition. Any questions? Feel free to shoot me an email at danielle@mppsych.com.au or send it to me on Facebook. You can send us a private message – we respond really fast on there.

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