10 Ways to Support Your Children Through Times Of Change

Supporting Children Through ChangeAt times we make big changes in our lives and we plan around how we can manage these changes for us as adults. However, it is important also to explore what changes are taking place for your child and to support them through this.

At times children don’t react to change immediately but a little later on. This can even be a few months in, when they realise the change is permanent.

There are many things to watch out for in children during times of change such as:

  • Change in sleeping pattern.
  • Crying more than normal.
  • Feeling that other children are not their friend – a shift in their level of confidence.
  • Developing behaviours such as phobias and generally a change in behaviour.
  • Difficulty cooperating.
  • Becoming clingy.
  • Change in eating habits.
  • Many others, as each child is unique and will respond in many different ways.

This week in our ’10 Ways to’ series, we offer five guidelines for times when you know that change is on the way and five for dealing with sudden changes.

If you are aware that change is on the way try to follow these five simple guidelines:

  1. Talk with your child about the changes ahead and ask them how they feel about it.
  2. Try not to fix it. Listen and explore their fears and anxieties.
  3. Try to understand their needs and think of ways you can support their needs to be met. Keep talking with your child, they forget and at times don’t understand exactly what you mean.
  4. Give your child extra time during these periods. Try to give them more one to one time so they have time to talk with you and stay connected. We can often be more busy ourselves during times of change but children need our focused time.
  5. Involve your child as much as you can in what is happening. Help them to understand what the change is and why the change is taking place.

If change happens suddenly then the key factor again is to talk with your child. Here are five guidelines to help support your child during times of sudden change:

  1. Try to explain why the change is happening.
  2. Try to give them space to explore feelings. You may be upset about the change so be sure it will affect your child also. Even if the change is not impacting on them, the change in how you are will.
  3. Check in with your chid regularly around how they are.
  4. Reflect on any changes you have noticed in them. Do not ignore behaviours and get into punishments and consequences. Think about what the child is trying to tell you through their behaviours. Remember all behaviour makes sense. What is the sense of this behaviour?
  5. Be patient with children, it can take time to adapt to change.

Change is good for children at times; it’s good for us all. It can help us see that we can cope and things will be alright. At times however change has great impact on us. We may not even be fully aware of the impact. Try to take time to reflect on your needs as well as your child’s needs. Talk with people involved in your child’s life about the changes taking place so they can also support your child at this time. Remember children can be impacted by any type of change:

  • Losing a friend due to moving away
  • Moving house
  • Starting school
  • New minders
  • Not seeing family members as much as they use too
  • Parents going back to work or starting work
  • Change in the routine at home
  • Loss of someone through death
  • A parent leaving the family home
  • A change in parent’s behaviour
  • Stressed parents
  • A new sibling and so much more…

If after a long period of time, over six months or a year you feel your child has not adapted or learned to cope with the changes that have happened it may be worthwhile exploring supports outside of the family. There are many things such as art and play therapy that can really support children. Also by accessing support as the parent you may develop skills which will help you support your child and understand why they are struggling with the changes.

This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on this topic on Monday 30 January from 11am-12pm on One Family’s Facebook page. Join in and post your question.

Next you might like to read 10 Ways to Develop Coping Skills In Your Family. 

Coming up next week: 10 Ways to Find Support When you Feel Like Giving Up.  

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and advice on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie.