The world we live in today is constantly changing. From having to move house, to making new friends and welcoming new products and information in the market, the pace of change is progressing at a rate that is faster than what we are able to keep up with at times.
Change can be overwhelming, especially for children who thrive on routine and appreciate the comfort of knowing what happens when. While we try our best to shelter our children from the effects of the changes that happen in their lives, it is also important that we teach them to cope with change – both big and small – and arm them with valuable life skills along the way.
Coping with change starts with building resilience
Records of research conducted indicate that children learn how to cope with change and the ups and downs of life by developing resilience. Widely known as one of the inherent traits we are all born with, psychologists have confirmed that resilience is, in fact, one of the most important qualities that parents can teach their children – alongside compassion and gratitude.
Studies have shown that children as young as two years old learn about stress management and coping strategies by watching and copying the actions of the adults around them. In addition, there is also concrete evidence which indicates how good early relationships with carers can help to make children more resilient – and the earlier this resilience-building is started, the better.
5 simple tips for helping children cope with change
As parents, we can build resilience in our children by letting them know that although some aspects of life are bound to change, your love and care for them remains constant.
Here are some simple strategies which you can put in place to help your children:
1. Answer their questions
Your children will have a lot of questions on their mind, so you need to create an environment in which they feel secure asking you about the changes they are going through. Asking questions is a way of helping them process the change and the answers they receive from both mum and dad will help them deal with the transition.
2. Give them advance notice
Nobody enjoys coping with changes that occur out of a sudden, so we should not expect our children to embrace changes that are thrown to them without a moment’s notice. To ensure that both of you get a good head start in embracing the change, do talk them through the changes early to allow them to get their heads around it. Make sure to give them opportunities to ask questions as well, as this helps them cope with the change.
3. Keep to routines as much as possible
Do not attempt to change everything at once. As much as possible, try to keep all routines in your children’s lives in place – and this includes bedtime routines, TV and homework time and the books you read to them.
4. Give them time to grieve
When we move to a new place, change schools or make any changes in life, we leave memories behind. Let your children talk to you about what they miss and don’t jump into pointing out all the wonderful things about the new change right away. Give them time to “mourn” for what they have lost before helping them move on with life.
5. Expect some regression
While coping with change, it is common for children to regress to earlier behaviours. For example, a child who had been toilet trained may revert back to soiling himself/herself and one who have learnt to sleep without a night light would once again be afraid to sleep in the dark. Take comfort in knowing that it is normal for them to behave this way, and try to be patient as you work with them to get past old habits and behaviours.