As children and families grow, change will be inevitable. Some common, big changes children face might include:
The birth of a new sibling
A move to a new house
Schedule alteration due to parents’ jobs
Children find comfort in regular routines; however, transitioning to new routines (even ones that were familiar just a few months ago) can seem daunting and unsettling. Naturally parents can and should prepare their children for upcoming changes by candidly discussing plans and brainstorming possible outcomes and scenarios. In addition to these kinds of conversations, parents can recognize and implement two guiding principles to create smooth transitions for their children as they adjust to new circumstances, expectations and environments.
Guiding principles for adjusting to change:
- Scale back for a short time. Eliminate unnecessary distractions and clear the calendar. Try to minimize any extra activities as much as possible. Reschedule appointments, meetings and errands for later dates after the family has adjusted to the new “normal”.
- Deliberately slow down. Schedule time to be together, talking to each other and debriefing. Prioritize time for each family member to be alone when needed, respecting the time and space they need to unwind, reflect and simply breathe. Find ways to unwind by walking the dog, sharing meals and participating in relaxing activities at home. Delay making decisions and new commitments to various activities until the dust has had some time to settle.
As parents consciously take the time to be in the present and attempt to weed out all additional demands on their time and attention, they will be better able to relax and focus on what is necessary and meaningful. After a few days families will find that both parents and children have adjusted to the new routines and can gradually return to a thoughtfully managed schedule.