Helping Kids Handle Change

Last week we discussed ways to help ease your child into summer break. This week we go one step further and look at ways to help your child handle change of any kind. Even those of us who've been around for decades still struggle with change occasionally so, imagine how challenging it must be for children who're still learning to identify emotion, control their behavior and, self-regulate in general. Here, then, are a handful of ways you can support your wee one during periods of transition.

1. Talk about it ahead of time

As with the end of the school year, you know some changes are coming. So talk with your child about what will happen and how things will be different afterwards. Being aware a change is coming can go a long way towards lessening the fear and anxiety around an otherwise unknown. Be sure to allow room for questions, and answer what you can.

2. Help them label what they're feeling Ask your child what she is feeling, and listen to her answer. If your child struggles to respond, some counselors recommend imagining what she might be feeling about the change, and them posing it to her in language she'll understand. If, for example, your child is leaving a classroom she adores, hearing you say, "You are probably wondering whether you'll see your teacher now that your no longer in her class" allows your child to feel heard and understood.

3. Point out the positive

Change has a scary connotation but often leads to something good. Help your child see the benefits of the transition by pointing out how things will change for the better.

4. Maintain as much of the status quo as possible

Having a reliable framework makes change less scary. Try to keep everyday schedules and rituals as consistent as possible.

5. Allow room for grief

Even good change means something's being lost. Allow your little to feel whatever emotions the change brings up, and acknowledge and validate those feelings.

What tips do you have to help children navigate change?