Chaplain Chat – Helping Children Adjust to Change

Hi Everyone,

During this term, there have been a few surprises that have occurred already such as going into lockdown and adults having to wear masks again. The ANZAC weekend lockdown highlighted how quickly things can change in life. In this post, I am discussing how parents can help their children cope and navigate life changes.

According to afineparent.com, life changes are inevitable and they can be difficult for anyone of any age. Firstfiveyears.org.au highlights that a child’s resiliency is built when parents help them experience positive transitions when life suddenly changes. Furthermore, children who develop greater resilience at a young age can better manage stress and cope with other changes or challenges that occur later in life. Afineparent.com states that some common life changes that can affect children are: moving locations, divorce, and the loss of a loved one. Biglifejournal.com provided a few tips on how parents can help their children cope with big life changes, of which I will be discussing the following three:

  1. Listen to their concerns

Addressing the questions and concerns that children may have about life changes is important. Biglifejournal.com emphasizes that children simply want to be heard and understood, thus when discussing the life change/s it is important to acknowledge and validate your child’s feelings with a statement like “it is okay to feel that way”. Some children may struggle to name their feelings, so parents may need to assist them in naming or putting a label on their emotions (anxious, sad, scared, etc). This will help your child feel like their emotions are manageable and less overwhelming.

  1. Keep Routines the Same

Having some consistency and stability is important for children when major changes happen. Biglifejournal.com states that children feel safe when they have a structured life, so during times of change parents can help restore a sense of safety by having regular family routines. This means that when a change occurs in a child’s life try to stick to your usual schedule. For example, if your child is living in a second home after divorce, it may be helpful for them to have the same bed and meal times in both homes.

  1. Read Books about the Big life changes

Biglifejournal.com provides a list of 85 books that they highly recommend for specific life changes, for example:

  • If your child is dealing with changes that occur during a divorce, books like “Two Homes” and “Invisible String” are helpful.
  • If there is a new baby in the family, books such as “You Were First” and One Special Day: A Story for Big Brothers and Sisters” maybe be helpful for the older siblings.
  • If your family has had to move homes, states, or countries the following books are recommended “A Kiss Goodbye” or “Moving to the Neighbourhood”.

Change is difficult to adjust to, so I hope the above tips help you to create positive transitions during any future changes in your child’s life. If your family is currently experiencing any big life changes I would like to leave you with the following word of encouragement:

Thank you

Rumbi

 

For more information on helping children adjust to life changes please visit the following websites:

https://biglifejournal.com/blogs/blog/help-kids-cope-big-life-changes

https://www.firstfiveyears.org.au/lifestyle/helping-children-learn-to-manage-change