Our children are seated at the front of the roller coaster ride to change.
As my son transitioned from pre-school to kindergarten, his normal was shifted. He was leaving his friends, teachers and routines after 3 years. Though graduating to something bigger, he vocalized that he was not ready to be a big boy in elementary school. He simply wanted to stay in the place he had known for years. In many circumstances, we expect children to readily adapt and move on. But think about it...nearly everything from their little eyes is new. Daily, they learn unfamiliar concepts and discover new things. Imagine the feelings of confusion, stress, and frustration from a child, whose brain is not yet fully developed.
Temper tantrums, whining, sad faces and more, their expressions and emotions are displayed in varying ways. From the moment they wake, to the moment they rest, your child has experienced both change and transition. A new toothpaste flavor, a substitute teacher, making a new friend, trying a new food, and learning a new concept, are only snapshots of what they may face in one day. Can you imagine having no control over your schedule and no gadget to remind you of what is upcoming? This is their world, and they rely on trusting adults to guide them, on the mountain that seems harder to climb with each step!
Whether the change is a family death, new school, or new sibling, here are a few things to consider as you help them transition on their change journeys:
Acknowledge that everything is OK
A safe space helps ease anxiousness. Consider using examples to verbalize that you recognize things are different. Ask what has changed from their perspective. Have them draw a photo of how they are feeling and what it looks like when everything is ok. Try to remind them that you are there to talk about anything, and reassure them that everything will be ok.
Establish a routine and allow for decision making
Our children are creatures of habit who thrive on consistency. Adding a bit of autonomy allows your little person feel like a big kid in the moment.
Create a routine they can look forward to and offer them choices where available. Perhaps your child does homework while you cook, then takes a walk, plays a game, reads a book, and off to bed. Allow them to choose which direction to go for today’s walk, what game to play, which book to read, or which fruit or dessert option to have with dinner.
Ask for a helper
Nothing makes your child feel more empowered than helping with a grown-up task! Ask them to gather the ingredients for dinner, help set the table, stir the veggies, pick out a shirt for school, feed the pet, or carry a bag of groceries.
Create family time
While technology and tv-free, give your child uninterrupted time. Consider placing cell phones and tablets in a basket before dinner and engage in talk-time to learn of everyone's day. Perhaps a weekly family meeting will offer a forum for your child to express what they love, what makes them sad and anything they may want to alter within their routines.
Introduce change with a twist of fun
Everyone loves a little fun. Consider giving a warning that your timer is set to leave the playground in 10 minutes. On the way home, play a round of I-Spy. Create fun names for new foods like cool-cauliflower, jiggly-jello, momma’s-meatballs or superhero-salad. Tell a story about how much fun it was to try the newest thing you did just the other day and ask if they would like to try it with you on Saturday. Remember, however, that whatever promise you make for Saturday, you must keep.
Smile, Compliment and Have Fun!
Give positive feedback for something they have done well or for a great idea.. Have fun!!!! They are your little people and are getting older by the second. Cherish the moments and enjoy the ride!!
Lolita E. Walker is the founder of Walker & Walker Enterprises. She is a mother, process improvement specialist and change management expert. She is the change management consultant who focuses on empowering women to truly embrace, act, and thrive in the newness of change - whatever that may be. She who will partner with you, personally stepping through how to free your mind, manage your transitions, and embrace your change through acceptance and renewal. Her change management program results in self-discovery of the strengths that will drive your success, coaching that translates into increased communications with those depending on you, and a sustainable change map that drives clarity, confidence, ownership and action. Learn more about her program by visiting https://www.lolitawalker.com