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Change is Hard

CCRR has undergone some changes the past few years – some minor, some not. In many cases, the notion of change raises anxiety, apprehension, and unease. Adults often have developed ways to manage change and all the feelings that come along. We often rely on one another by sharing our feelings and thoughts about impending change or, if the change happens quickly, processing after the fact.

How do children manage change? As a mom, I sometimes took for granted that my children wouldn’t be affected by a major change because they were too little to understand all the details. Yet, children are more aware of and in tune with their surroundings and, more importantly, the feelings of people around them. Children look to adults to provide the stability they need to navigate the world, and so we must be very aware of how our actions and reactions help children feel and process what is happening to them and around them.

A wonderful article published on the Psychology Today website in 2014 notes, “Facing transitions is a daily dilemma for young kids even as it presents the opportunity for lifelong skills to grow.  Young children have difficulty with change, and transitions are change. Life is filled with them- daily, weekly, seasonal or occasional….  Comfort comes in knowing what to expect. Nowhere is this more apparent than with children before age five.”

Prepare your child. No matter how old we are, we all like a little forewarning for change. This holds especially true for little ones. Planning ahead and communicating the transition point empowers your child: “After breakfast, we’ll wash our hands before we comb our hair.” For those moments when you’re rushed, communicating transitions is especially important.

Of course, there will be a time when your child is not happy to make a transition. Bigger changes, like a new child care setting or a new work schedule might lead your child to feel frustrated or unhappy. Let them be upset, listen to them, take their feelings seriously. Empower your child by helping them name their feelings and by finding ways to give them control – choosing the book they want to read, or choosing to wear rain boots on a sunny day – can go a long way.