Children are so highly adaptable and quick to learn that sometimes we think that they will be able to simply roll with changes in their life. But, this is unfair to them. They may simply be lacking the experience and words to explain to their parents that they are feeling stressed out.
If your child lacks the vocabulary to express themselves, their stress can manifest itself in the form of acting out at school or in the home. Alternately, they may become very withdrawn and avoid doing favorite activities and sports.
It is very important to take a child whose behavior changes to this degree for counseling sessions. A family counselor should be able to advise you on how to help your child through these changes. They will help lay the groundwork to help both you and your child to deal with stress and expressing difficult emotions and feelings.
When you know a situation is coming that may present stress factors to your child, it is good to think of ways you can be there for them and begin preparing them for the change. This will also make it easier for you to cope with the changes. Whether it is changing houses, schools, or your job, you and your children will be able to weather changes together as a unit.
Give Them Advanced Warning
When you find out that a change is coming, process it as much as you can yourself, and then tell your children about it. Changes that affect them should never come as a surprise. Your children are just as much a part of the family as you and your spouse, and they should receive just as much notice to help them prepare for what is about to happen.
This also allows you all to process what the changes will mean for your family as a family. You will be able to communicate what you will need from your children to ease the transition. In turn, they will feel able to tell you how they feel and ask any questions they may have regarding possible situations they are worried about.
Talk to Your Children
As parents, we tend to tell our children information and assume that is enough. But it is very necessary to take the time to talk to them and listen to their responses. Sometimes, children go through situations that may seem trivial to us as adults but mean the world to the small child.
Talk them through life’s challenges and help guide them in dealing with the ups and downs that life brings. This will help them to form healthy coping mechanisms, and they will be better able to identify when they can deal with a problem on their own and when they need to come to you for guidance.
Avoid Sweeping Changes
If your financial circumstances are affected and you need to make some changes, then explain to your children why they have to give up certain activities or vacations. But do not expect them to immediately switch off certain parts of their day. Bring them down gradually, so they have enough time to say goodbye.
If you are introducing a new sibling into the family, then do not expect your child to give up their room or toys for the new child. This will create unnecessary tension between siblings that have not even met yet. Gradual adaptive change is the best way to get everyone used to big changes without too much upset and difficulty.
Include Them in Decision-Making
Any change that affects you and your spouse also affects your children. Involve them in the process of deciding how to go ahead and deal with the situation as it progresses. If you have to move to a new job, but it will take you away from home more often, then work with your children on how they can stay in touch with you.
If your family has to move to a new house, then allow them to have a say in decorating their room and fixing up the home. Giving them choices and helping them to feel included will remove large parts of the fear that change brings to children. They will feel they have a solid grasp on what is happening and it will help them to weather the upheaval of their lives with more equanimity.
Your children are the reason that you strive for more and better circumstances. They will also be the reason that you find the sweetness of success and the thrill of achievement. Include them in your lives, and they will welcome you into their lives. A family that grows together, learns together, and knows how to deal with stress together, will always stay together.