The new school year is here and with it comes the pressure for every child to deal with newness. But how prepared is your child to embrace new changes? And if not, how can you prepare and enable a child to be deal with changes head on? This article throws some light on ways to help a child cope with the many changes that the real world brings about.
Nothing is constant except change. We all know that! As adults, we are aware that we do face many situations which might compel us to build a more agile mindset and be more tolerant towards change. Our minds get conditioned to accept that not everything remains as it is, and that change is ‘inevitable’.
Children on the other hand thrive in an environment of consistency. A consistent schedule, a disciplined routine is believed to be a haven for children. While as parents, we strive to create this world of consistency for our kids, do we really prepare them for the actual world of dynamism? What happens when they encounter change? How do they process it?
When we speak of changes, it can be of any degree. Something as basic as loss of a toy, new shoes, new food, or something moderate like a new friend, change in schedule, sleep patterns or something bigger like shifting into a new house, new school, new sibling, divorce or death. All magnitudes of change have an impact on how the child feels and develops his emotional intelligence, even if the impact is not apparent at first.
Adjusting to change also varies from one child to another, while some accept and adapt quickly, others might need some help in getting through the changes. How a child adapts to change will depend on his temperament, personality, and the circumstances that the child usually grows up in.
The problem is that the impact of all these changes is usually behavioural, and we may not notice its impact immediately. Hence, apart from our constant vigilance, it becomes very essential that we equip children with what is required to process and adapt to change. The new school year is here and with it comes the pressure for every child to deal with newness. But how prepared is your child to embrace new changes? And if not, how can you prepare and enable a child to be deal with changes head on? This article throws some light on ways to help a child cope with the many changes that the real world brings about and tools to manage their emotions and the changes. Conditioning a child’s mind is a time driven process. So instead of facing the problem when it arises, prepping the child with small practices will always help them be mentally prepared for the changes.
So how do we prepare the minds of children to be open, accepting, and unperturbed by changes?
1. Watch Yourself
How do you process change? Do you panic? Are you nonchalant about it? Or do you deal with it in haste or do you take time to process?
It is an obvious observation that children pick up reactions to situations from their parents. So, your honest, and progressive approach towards changes will also influence them to look at change in a positive light.
2. Watch them
Every child responds to change differently. And it’s important to know how your child reacts to changed circumstances. Observe. Notice. And don’t give in easily when things are not going the usual way. Even if you see your child in distress, give them some time to cope with it and see if your child does that with ease or not.
3. Prep them with Dynamism in their everyday life
While bedtime and mealtimes always should stay consistent, there are places where you can introduce changes. Small steps like changing an everyday routine like randomly like:
- Making them walk instead of taking the car
- Changing the style of cooking for them and introducing them to new cuisines
- Withholding resources and supplies that they demand and providing them with alternatives to do the same activity
These are some ways to let your child’s mind adjust to the fact that things may not be the same always.
4. Making them choose different each time
It is all about becoming comfortable with changes. So, encouraging the child to choose differently and explore new territories will make them comfortable with changes. For a simple instance of making them draw using different mediums each time or trying diverse ways to play the same game makes them experience change and see that change can also be good.
5. Putting a positive spin on changes
Change is not always bad. In fact, we all know how much of a difference change makes to our minds amidst mundane routines. So, getting the child to develop a positive outlook towards change helps. My friend’s dad would do a celebratory dance whenever she would do something different. It was always funny and encouraging which led her to explore more. Rituals like these create a positive feeling.
6. Communicate and be there
Needless to say, communication always plays an important part. When a child is going through a transition, especially during significant changes like new school year, new friends, new environment or any major life changes, it’s important to be there and keep communicating with the child. Spending more time with them and observing them during the transition becomes all the more important and it also helps them feel safer. This makes the transition easier for them.
7. Maintaining consistency with intense changes
When it comes to changes of greater magnitude, like a birth of a sibling, or death of a close one, or moving into a whole new city or divorce or any such life altering situations, it is important to keep the child’s life otherwise consistent with minimum changes. It will ease the transition for the child if they do not have to deal with too much all at once.
It’s all in the experience that we create for the child. A sheltered upbringing is great for a happy child, but for a happy and an emotionally intelligent child it’s vital to build an ecosystem similar to the world we live in.
The reality of it all is that it’s not like we can predict or pre-empt a change. We have no way of knowing what curveball awaits us, so it’s important to have some change management tactics up your sleeve to help with the transition for your child. Especially, with the new year of academics starting after two whole years of Pandemic & the unpredictability of situations, calls for attention to what these times mean for our children.
About the Guest Author
Sindhu Gouthami, the founder of MoxieandHopper, is an educator and has been training for the past 14 years. With extensive experience in training working professionals and adults on skill development, she realised that true skill development happens at a much younger age, and thus she started designing learning courses for kids from the ages of 2-14. She believes that education is not just about literacy or academics but is about empowerment. Moxie and Hopper is an initiative to facilitate experiential learning amongst children with an emphasis on cognitive flexibility, emotional intelligence, and creative thinking to create happy and engaged minds.