How to Prepare Your Child for Major Life Changes: When I had kids the first thing my mom told me was that kids need routine and predictability. Oh boy was she right! They behave better when they know what is happening, know what is coming up next, and they understand what is expected of them.
But what about when everything changes? When their routines are altered?
This last month we went through a pretty big move and any day now we are expecting a new baby. To say our home is currently filled with change is an understatement. Before we started on this journey we had a pretty good idea of what we were getting our family into and had a plan on how to handle challenges it would present in our children. But, along the way we have learned quite a lot. Here is what I have learned on how to prepare your child for life changes and help them understand what is happening.
How to Prepare Your Child for Major Life Changes:
Even if you are not moving to a new city or expecting a new baby, every change has the ability to cause a child distress. These simple steps are important to equip yourself with to help make any transition a smooth one.
1. Do Your Homework:
Remember those commercials from the 90’s? “The More You Know”…just those words give me the visual of a shooting star.
But, it is completely true! When it comes to a major life change, the more you know, the better equipped you are to handle it. Go to the library and stock up on books for both you and your little ones. Get online and explore YouTube Videos. Moving? If possible take a trip and explore activities in the new area, even if it is something as simple as checking out the local park. Give yourself and your child as much information as you can. Involve your child as you explore and you will be slowly exposing them to the new changes while giving them confidence in what lies ahead.
2. Take One Thing at a Time:
Major life changes can be stressful for adults too. For some of us when confronted with that stress the natural reaction is to dig our heels in, grit our teeth, and get it over and done with as quickly as possible. Here’s the thing though, if you are rushing through it and making your child miserable in the process, you aren’t really saving yourself any time or sanity. So breathe, slow down, and tackle one transition at time.
In our case (having a toddler that still co-sleeps) this meant getting acquainted with the new house before transitioning Meatball to his own room with his own big kid bed (so that the baby’s bassinet has room in the master bedroom). This also means having a back-up plan in place so that you are moving at your child’s pace, not the other way around.
3. Get Kids Excited!
Doing everything in your power to make the changes fun and exciting will help your child work through the scary parts. What better way to balance any negatives than with some fun positives!? Focusing on the brighter side of life will also help shape your child’s views of the world in the long run! Start in a good place and it is easier to return there if there are any setbacks.
4. Be Realistic:
Be prepared for any regressions or bumps along the way. Some kids are able to handle change without a worry or conflict, and that is awesome! However, when starting out do not automatically assume that everything will go smoothly. As the saying goes, plan for the worst, hope for the best. Have grace for yourself, your child, and everyone else involved. Changes deserve a learning curve!
Make a point to frequently check in with your child to see what they are thinking and feeling. It’s important to ask questions, but it is just as important to just sit there and listen to everything that your child has to say. Taking that time to connect with your child daily can make all the difference in the world!
While every child is going to react to change differently these steps are an excellent foundation for being proactive and flexible in your parenting.