Skip to Main Content

Join us for  HOPE GROWS 2024!

Children Connection Parenting Self-Discovery Teenagers

At some point in each of our lives, we have experienced change. Change can affect each of us in such unique ways. One other aspect of changes is how widely it can range in severity and impact. Slight changes can be easier to manage and adjust to over time. Many times, small changes are expected or a part of life, which can make them equally exciting and nerve-wracking. Substantial changes can take a longer time to adjust to and can sometimes be unpleasant overall. Now, I ask that we take a moment to think about the kids and teens in our lives. What kind of changes have they experienced in their lives thus far? How many of these changes have been small like starting a new school year, changes in routine, or personal injury or sickness? How many major changes has your child experienced like a death of a friend/family member, moving to a new place, or coping with a divorce? As adults, we can struggle to understand and cope with the changes that we endure throughout our lifetime. When it comes to our own children experiencing these changes, we can feel powerless in knowing the best way to help ease even the toughest transitions.
So, what are the best ways that parents can support their kids through tough life changes? Similarly to adults, each child reacts differently to change. Some children are not bothered by the mundane changes of school, classmates, or teachers. However, some children feel overwhelmed and anxious when the slightest changes occur in their daily routine. Temperament and personality play into this difference in a major way, but even more than this, a child’s level of support and help from their loved ones can make changes easier and exciting.
·      Acknowledge your child’s worries, fears, and emotions. One of the most effective skills that parents can develop to help encourage their child’s emotional regulation, coping skills, and self-esteem is reflective listening. Reflective listening is described by listening to a child’s thoughts and feelings, then reflecting to them what you have heard. The key here is to neglect trying to give advice, instruct your child on something, or even ask questions in the moment. You just reflect the emotion and content of your child’s statement, and allow them to rebuttal, if they choose. An example would be, “It sounds like you feel sad this morning because your little sister must be in a different classroom from you.”
·      Do what you can to be available to your child during times of change. It is important that if your child is having trouble with the changes at the end and beginning of the school year, try and lighten the load of the family events. Focus on spending quality time with your child more around those times of transition.
·      Talk about the change. It is empowering for children to have space to share their feelings and discuss aspects of change with the adults they trust most. As parents, if we talk about changes frequently, they become less surprising, which can make them easier to cope with. Talking about changes in a positive manner can also make them less daunting and more exciting to our kids. Making this a normal part of life can also encourage your kids to continue reaching out in times of difficulty.
At the end of the day, parents show up for their kids in any way that they can. Taking the time to respect your child’s emotions, show them that you care, and make the scary parts of life less scary, will only benefit the overall growth and development of your children.

References:
Brightwheel. (2023, December 19). A childcare worker’s guide to reflective listening. Brightwheel blog. https://mybrightwheel.com/blog/reflective-listening#:~:text=It%20involves%20actively%20listening%20to,positive%20social%20and%20emotional%20development.
Helping Children Deal with Change . (2005). Kids and Change. chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/wiomk/files/2012/10/KidsAndChange.pdf