5 Practical Ways to Make Change Easier on Your Child

5 Practical Ways to Make Change Easier on Your Child

Change can be hard. One mom shares ideas on how to help your child through it.


By: Wendy Robinson

I thought things were going really well. Our house was getting packed up, the movers were booked, and both of my kids (ages 2 and 6) seemed to be excited about our upcoming out-of-state move. And then I discovered that my 6-year-old had been pulling pieces of junk mail out of the recycling bin and stashing them in his suitcase. When I asked why, he tearfully explained that he wanted to save our old address.

Transitions and change can be really hard, even when you are a grown-up, so it makes sense that kids can find it even more difficult to understand and prepare for. The reality is, however, that almost all kids will have to experience some changes in their young lives, whether that is starting a new school, gaining a new sibling, moving to a new house or new state, or dealing with a parental separation. As parents, our job is to try to help them through that change with as much positivity as possible.

Here are five practical ways to help kids adapt to change:

1. The power of routine: According to the Child Study Center at New York University, children thrive on routine, especially younger children, so during the time of transition, do your best to keep some familiar routines. For our family, that has meant following our usual bedtime routine even in the hotels we stay at during the move.

2. Focus on feelings: Give younger children paper and ask them to draw what they are feeling or ask them how their favorite lovey is feeling about the change. Listen and let them know that it is OK to have mixed feelings or to be sad or scared about a change.

Melinda Graham-Hinners, PhD, a therapist who regularly works with people in times of transition, recommends that parents of older children pay extra attention to their moods and anything that “seems off” in their behavior. Sometimes actions say more than words if a child is feeling confused or concerned about a big life change. Making an effort to stay present and available to your kids is key.

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3. Include them: Kids like to feel that they are helpers so getting them involved can make them feel like they have some control over the process. Kids can help pack boxes or pick out things for a new baby or pick out a special piece of luggage if they are going to be moving from one parent’s house to another.

More from P&G everyday: 5 Quick Ways to Calm Your Kid Down

4. Use technology: According Graham-Hinners, older children, tweens, and teens might worry most about staying connected with friends during times of change. Help ease their fears and make plans to help them stay in touch. She notes that “kids can use Skype or email or other types of technology to keep in touch so parents should talk about what options they are ready for.”

5. Make some time for fun: Even if you are crazy busy with packing or getting ready for whatever the transition is, take a break to have some fun time too. An hour or two spent at the park or playing a board game in the midst of a stressful time will recharge everyone, even mom and dad!

How have you helped your child manage change? What would you add to this list?



Wendy Robinson is a writer, working mom, and graduate student. Someday she'd like to sleep in again.

Image ©iStock.com/killerb10

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