Even though change is inevitable, it certainly isn’t always easy. Some people just seem to be more resilient and roll with changes easier than others. Kids, in particular, can have a really hard time adjusting to changes in their environment – whether due to a move, the addition of a family member or pet, or even seemingly small changes like painting a room or the moving of furniture. There are things parents can do to help children adjust and help them develop skills for coping with changes in their environment.
The more some key, basic things can stay the same for a child, the easier it may be to adjust to other changes. Too many changes all at once can be overwhelming for anyone. For example, following the same bed-time routine will make it easier to adjust to a new bed or a new bedroom. Sounds and smells can also be very comforting and help a child adjust to new and/or different surroundings – listening to certain music at bedtime prior to a move can also create some sense of the familiar when the same music is played in a new home. Scented candles, bubble bath, and other forms of aromatherapy can be a useful tool in creating a calm, familiar feeling in a new environment.
If possible, involve the child in planning for changes – if it is time to move to a “bigger” bed, or make room for a new family member, or even adding a pet to the family – get the child involved in choosing and helping get the space ready. By having input, a child is less likely to feel out of control and like things are happening “to him” – instead, he is a part of the adventure.
For parents, it is important to try to remain patient and understand that adjustment may take time. Encouragement and consistency are called for in times of transition. Each child is an individual and expecting someone to just “get over it” may be unrealistic. The more calm and confident and understanding a parent can be, the more likely the child will be able to make a relatively smooth transition. If changes in the environment come with stress and anxiety on the part of the parents – this can definitely carry over and be absorbed by the child. A move in times of stress and uncertainty, a difficult pregnancy, or needing to change school or church under duress will be doubly challenging. If possible, parents should be calm and supportive and try not to let their own concerns and anxieties seep onto the child.
While some individuals may always have a hard time with change, learning coping skills and adjustment techniques throughout the many changes in life will help your child grow and become increasingly resilient with the inevitable twists and turns of life.