5 Simple Ways to Make Children Feel Comfortable with Change by Naomi WebbBy Teachers.Net News Desk
By Naomi Webb
Change is an inevitable part of life, but for children, learning how to deal with it can be a tricky process. In fact, adapting to change is something we find very difficult as adults, so you can imagine how difficult is for children to embrace change or even enjoy it!
Whether they’re starting a new school year, forming new friendships and getting into a new routine in the classroom, or experiencing change in their personal life (such as adapting to a new family structure or a house-move), it can be hard for children to feel comfortable when things aren’t as they once were. Here are five simple ways you can help to make children feel more comfortable with changes when they inevitably arise.
- Prepare children in advance wherever possible
The first and most useful thing you can do is to give advance warning. For instance, if your child just started a new school year this September, you probably started speaking to them about it before the summer holidays and spent some time readying them for their new classrooms and teachers, didn’t you? The same approach is a good idea whatever the change entails, enabling children to have a more time to process the changes that are coming and what they’ll need to prepare themselves for.
- Encourage them to express their feelings
However, regardless of how well-prepared a child is for change, nothing is as cathartic as enabling them to vocalise their feelings. This might mean literally listening them and asking questions to prompt deeper reflection, or could mean carrying out some creative exercises, such as drawing, crafting or writing their feelings down (stationery supplies are available here, if you need to stock up). Younger children might enjoy being read to, especially if the character is going through a similar experience to theirs: it’s likely to give way to conversation about how a child is feeling.
- Explain that fear or reticence is completely natural
It’s also a good idea to help children to recognise that fear is totally natural. We often reject change because we fear the unknown, and this is just as true for children as it is for adults. So, it’s worth simply pointing out that the feelings they have about their situation are feelings that we all have, and that it’s not silly to have those feelings. Your job is to offer a balanced view of what change will bring, acknowledging the ‘worst case’ scenarios and presenting better, happier possibilities for the future at the same time.
- Help them to celebrate the positives aspects of change
You should also try to help children celebrate the good things about change. When appropriate, ask them to envisage a positive outcome, and all the great possibilities that might come to be true because of the fact that change is underway. Optimistic thinking like this will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.
- Celebrate their success and ability to adapt
Finally, children should be praised for their ability to handle change once it’s happening or has passed. Pointing out how well they coped, and getting them to remember their ‘worst case scenario’ and comparing it to how things actually are will help them to deal with change more easily in the future, and allow them to soothe themselves as they grow older.