In this time of global pandemic, the only thing constant is change. As we transition into the fall season, big life changes are on the horizon for our families and their little ones. Whether its transitioning to in person schooling, moving into a new house, or a spouse returning to work, life changes bring anxiety and stress into our homes. This week, we share some tips to help your little ones navigate and adjust to the change ahead.
Give Them Time to Prepare
When preparation is an option, give your child as much advanced warning that a major change is coming. Provide them with plenty of time to process and accept the change. If possible, rehearse big changes and practice the new routines they require. For example, if your child’s school will be transitioning to in person instruction, practice their school day schedule. Drive by the school, point out where they will walk to their classroom, what supplies they will bring with them, and where they can expect to see you at the end of their school day.
Listen to Concerns and Answer Questions
Clear communication and supportive listening will help your child understand the changes they will experience. Patiently listen to their concerns and provide age appropriate information to ease anxiety about the unknown. Working through what the change will bring will help your child feel secure as they know what to expect.
As much as possible during times of change, stick to what your child knows best. Keeping the same mealtimes and bedtime routines build the stability and consistency your child needs to feel safe and secure. Avoid introducing additional changes while your child is experiencing shifts in normalcy, as this can add to their stress and anxiety. For instance, delay transitioning from a crib to a toddler bed when your child is already anxious about your spouse returning to work.
Provide Emotional Outlets
Talk openly with your child about their feelings towards the changes they will see. Help your child name their emotions and provide outlets for them to express big feelings. Check in with your little one through Emotional Regulation, as shown in this Play at Home video. Identifying feelings and linking them to actions that help express them builds social emotional development leading to less outbursts and tantrums.
Give Them Choices and Ask for Help
Restore your child’s sense of control over their life by providing choice in smaller activities. For example, if your family is moving to a new house, allow your little one to pick out the wall color in their new room. Provide your little one with the sense of agency they need to feel valuable, responsible, and important. Ask your child for help with small chores or tasks to boast their confidence and sense of independence.
Strengthen your child’s resilience in times of change by supporting their understanding and expressing graceful patience. Remember, child see and feel your emotions too. Checking in with yourself and prioritizing your mental health are the first steps in being a supportive caregiver for your little ones. For more information on Building Resilience During a Pandemic, check out our previous blog post here.