We all know that change can be difficult. This is as true for adults as it is for children. Whether we plan for transitions or not, our children will learn about change. Ultimately these experiences are an expected part of life. It is important for us to know that the way we approach change will set the scene for our children. They can learn that change can be positive and that they have power in how they approach and manage it, or alternatively, they can learn that change is something to be feared or avoided.
We know that every child will experience transitions differently. Supporting your child to experience positive transitions helps to build resilience and develop constructive strategies to live and do well in our changing world. As adults, life experiences have shown us that having a positive outlook and being able to approach and manage change in positive and constructive ways is critical to success in life.
Important tips for supporting children through change –
1) Let your child talk about it
- Encourage your child to share their feelings, listen attentively and let them know it’s okay to have these emotions when working through change. When children are too young to communicate verbally, talk to your child about the changes going on in their world, and prepare them for change through your actions.
- At times of change and during transitions your child needs to remember a lot of information. Often they are entering a new environment, which often requires your child to adapt to new adults and children, new routines, rituals and expectations. Talking about these changes at home builds familiarity.
- You know your child best, and you know when something is ‘up’ so take the lead and address their questions, queries or concerns. Often children’s worries come about from the unknown, so share what you feel they need to know.
2) Let your child know that it’s not their fault
- Children are prone to believing that they may be the cause of the change. Be clear and open that this change is not their fault and be sure to remind them of this.
- Think about transitions from your child’s perspective, we cannot ever know what fears or concerns anyone is thinking and experiencing. What may seem like a ‘small child, small issue’ may feel like a huge worry so make sure your child feels comfortable to come to you with their questions.
3) Allow your child time to process the change
- We can’t stop all change – big or small change is most often necessary. What we can be is understanding, we cannot expect our children to be completely fine just by telling them that they will be. Give your child space to think things through, allow them to let their emotions out in a healthy way and always support them through these difficult moments.
- The word transition by definition means that your child is moving from a familiar environment to a new one, with new people and expectations. Making time to get to know the people and environment will help you to support your child to make it through the transition period of change successfully.
- Children thrive when they know what to expect, so where possible find areas to continue your child’s routine so that they can remain consistent. Having some regularity can prove to be a great source of comfort.
4) Explain what will stay the same, what they can control
- Children’s every day relationships and experiences provide opportunity for ongoing learning of change. These are not only important to the child at the time but set the groundwork for their future health, learning and wellbeing.
- As a child, there are always changes that are beyond their control, so remind children what is under their control. When everything appears to be transitioning you can provide a real sense of security to your child by making them aware of what in their life they do have the ability to make choices about.
- Clear and predictable routines help children know what to expect.
5) A positive outlook is always worth keeping
- Build resilience by being a force of positive support for your child as they meet and overcome any transitions they encounter. Prepare your child by encouraging them to always look ahead so they can see the future as bright during the difficulties of change, and this will lead your child to come out stronger on the other side.
6) It is important to stay positive and calm during transitions
- Your child will be looking to you for guidance. If they can see you are feeling relaxed and happy this can help them to feel the same. In turn, consider how your child might feel if they see you are stressed or upset about the transition.
Mother Duck believes building partnerships with families that support each child to experience change and transitions positively is paramount to children feeling an increased sense of connectedness and belonging. We also know that there is no one right way to experience life’s changes and accordingly recognise and respect each family’s uniqueness. We hold true that it has always been about individualised care and practice, so talk with educators about what your child likes to do, things that might worry them, and what settles them if they are upset at home. This kind of information sharing will build Educators’ understanding and ensure informed responses that better support your child’s needs.
At Mother Duck, we understand the important and valuable learning that occurs during transitions and recognise that children need genuine encouragement and support to ensure a smooth and positive transition through change. So, let’s together start the year forging partnerships built on open and constructive information sharing that collaboratively ensures the successful transition of each individual child into our Mother Duck fold.