Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

Change is the only constant thing in the world, but this doesn’t make it easy for children to cope. People are almost always met with changes, from subtle ones to life-changing ones. Given this, children must learn to cope.

Children are, most of the time, subject to schedules and predictability. Childhood is when they’re encouraged and taught to build healthy habits and routines, helping their parents better manage their days. They’re woken up at a specific time, eat breakfast, brush their teeth, and take a bath – everything they do follows a particular pattern to keep their days organized and productive. When they stray from this system, they can easily get disrupted, leading to missed activities.

At this age, children are yet to develop self-governance. This means they still thrive on familiarity and depend on guidance from adults around them about everyday chores. The structure gives them a feeling of safety, reassuring parents that their children are learning and developing. As children can easily be preoccupied and distracted from what they’re supposed to do, they must strictly adhere to and be guided by a routine. However, while strict adherence to a pattern offers benefits, this might also create a sense of adversity when children suddenly face changes.

Changes and Children

Adults have learned to be resilient and better adjust to how fast-paced the world is. They’re better at handling whatever changes come their way, naturally adapting to the differences in their environment. They might not notice anything shifting. However, children are a different narrative when experiencing changes since they haven’t built their resiliency yet. They will, most certainly, find any changes shocking, finding it challenging to gain control again.

For children, the constant need to change gears and acclimate to these changes can trigger unwelcomed behaviors like tantrums and whining. This may prompt strong emotions as children are admittedly fearful of the unknown. This goes beyond the fear of stepping into dark rooms, not knowing what’s waiting for them. Instead, this entails outbursts whenever they aren’t familiar with what’s happening or when their comfortable patterns aren’t met and respected.

Change is unavoidable, and for children to not succumb to and suffer from consequences, they must learn to cope. Here are some strategies to help them with.

Notify Them in Advance

Children must be warned before anything occurs in preplanned changes because of conscious and deliberate decisions made by parents. They must stay informed about what’s happening to avoid keeping them in the dark, allowing them time to prepare and process the events. This reinforces the idea that children’s opinions are valid and considered, making them feel valued. It’s also crucial to allow them to slowly accept the change and not just thrust them into another environment.

However, not all occurring changes are planned. Regarding sudden and unforeseen changes, parents must ensure children still stay informed. They must be explained what’s happening and what changes are made to their routine. This makes them feel accompanied throughout the transition. Things may have happened suddenly, but they’ll still feel safe due to their parent’s presence.

Entertain Questions and Curiosities

Children can’t help but be curious and worried whenever something new happens. Parents must take it upon themselves to be there and answer their inquiries. This helps reassure children that while numerous things are foreign, they will still be there for them, and there will still be consistent things. Often, children fall into a repetitive pattern, asking the same questions repeatedly.

Parents should be patient throughout all this, as this will gradually lead to children’s mastery over the situation and develop a sense of resiliency. Flexibility requires comprehension of the situation and the knowledge of every possible angle available within the condition. This helps them work through their confusion and emotions about the change. Whether it’s positive or negative, parents should be accepting and understanding of their children’s reactions. Remember, it’s crucial to validate their emotions, not invalidate them.

Fill Their Needs

When families undergo changes, parents often pay closer attention to settling down into the new environment or circumstances that they fail to observe their children are confused and hurting. Children also have needs to be satisfied beyond their essentials and learn to cope. This includes emotional connection and time for play, all contributing to the decrease in stress. Their cups should be filled with love and attention whenever there are changes.

They should be allowed to regulate their emotions through play and family bonding. Take what Ruthanne Nopson did, for instance. During her childhood, Ruthanne experienced a constant change in her environment due to her family moving around a lot. She read and wrote books to manage her reactions and free up her mind. Children should be allowed to enjoy their childhood during these changes, giving them time to distress and distract themselves from things that can trigger a negative response.

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