7 Ways to Prepare Your Kids for Big Life Changes
Guest post by Matt Casadona. He has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with a concentration in Marketing and a minor in Psychology. Matt is passionate about marketing and business strategy and enjoys San Diego life, traveling, and music.
Big life changes are hard for everyone, but they can be especially difficult for children who don’t understand what’s going on in a parent’s life. While children are known for being resilient, they still need someone who can help them get through big changes and become well-adjusted people even during times of stress.
Big life changes happen, and there’s no stopping them. While some changes can be positive and some can be negative, very few people genuinely enjoy change. Big changes, including divorce, loss of a family member or pet, and moving, can have a significant impact on your child’s health and happiness. Here’s how to help your kids cope with significant life changes.
How to Prepare Your Kids for Big Life Changes
Talk About Feelings
It’s difficult for parents to see their kids get upset about anything. Of course, you want your child to be happy and have a happy home. While crying and temper tantrums are typical for small children, you can help soothe your child by talking about their feelings.
Instead of simply cradling your child to calm them down, talk to them like they’re older than they are so they can begin to understand and process how they’re feeling about a big change. You can tell your child you understand that they’re frustrated or disappointed and having those feelings is okay.
Listen to Your Child
If your child is upset, always make time to listen to them, even if they’re upset over something small. Making eye contact with your child shows them you’re truly invested in what they have to say. Talking about what your child is going through, no matter how old they are, can help them learn about their feelings and process them during periods of big changes.
For example, if you recently lost a family pet, you can ask your child how they’re feeling and teach them a little bit about life and death. While losing any member of the family is always hard for everyone, it can be especially difficult for children who don’t understand death or the journey of life.
By listening to your child, you can find ways to help them cope, such as writing down their feelings or drawing pictures, which can be especially beneficial for helping them deal with such intense emotions.
Keep a Routine
When you’re facing a significant change, such as the first day of kindergarten, a big move, or even a divorce, keeping a routine is a necessity. Keeping as much as your child’s life consistent and predictable can help them deal with the bigger changes going on around them. Children coping with a divorce shouldn’t be introduced to too many new things at once.
Of course, when you’re going through a divorce, it can be difficult to stick to the exact routine. After all, your spouse won’t be there all the time. Instead, keep them on the same schedule they were on so they don’t feel like too much is going on at once. If you are separating from your spouse, try to time it so you’re not getting a divorce around the same time your child might be starting a new school.
Part of preparing for a big life change is preparing the entire family, not just your child. By preparing everyone, including yourself, you can help your child easily navigate big changes.
One way you can always be ready for big changes, even if you don’t think any are coming in the future, is to have insurance. Everything from life insurance to auto insurance can help your family, especially small children dealing with big changes. For example, if you have life insurance and pass away, your children and spouse won’t have to worry about paying the bills and can focus on grieving together instead of dealing with any additional stressors such as statements.
You can’t predict the future, but there are ways to make the impact of big changes on your family less severe.
Ensure Sleep and Nutrition
Children going through big changes need to keep their minds and bodies healthy. Consider yourself; getting proper sleep is key to helping you make important decisions and process change. Without getting the right nutrition and quality of sleep, you might feel cranky and disoriented as an adult. Children need the same type of care when going through big changes.
Getting enough sleep ensures they’re well-rested to help them avoid getting cranky and throwing temper tantrums. Eating right can also help their minds and bodies prepare for a big change.
Children need to be able to make their own choices when it doesn’t put them in danger. While you should always have the final say, your child needs to have as much autonomy as possible.
Allowing your child to make choices of their own can help them deal with a feeling of lack of control. For example, if your child is starting their first day of a new school, you can allow them to pick out their clothes. Allowing them more autonomy during big changes can give them back a feeling of control that can help them cope with the difficult feelings.
Your child looks to you as an example of how to cope with change. While your overall mental health is key, and nobody can avoid feeling stressed or sad all the time, it’s important to stay positive. Of course, you can have periods of feeling negative about a big change, just like your child. It’s okay to show your child negative emotions because it helps them learn that all feelings are valid. However, it’s important to talk to your child about why you’re feeling a certain way while remaining positive to help them learn how to cope with difficult situations.
Being in a good mood isn’t always easy, but you can turn any bad change into a good change by finding the silver lining. For example, if your child is upset about starting their first day of school because they won’t get to spend the day with you, let them know that you’ll miss them, but they’ll have a great time making new friends.
Coping with Big Life Changes
Life changes are a regular part of life that even adults sometimes have problems managing. Teaching your child how to navigate complex changes can help them become a well-rounded, stable person who can deal with stress later in life.
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