School readiness - changes

How can I support my child through big changes?

When things are unfamiliar, it can feel exciting but it can also make us feel uncertain, insecure and stressed. Some stress can be useful because it can help to get us ready, but if it gets too much, we might end up feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

How children cope with big changes depends on a lot of things, including their past experiences and age. But adults can help them deal with the feelings that big changes can cause. Whether they’re starting school, moving house or moving class - here are some ideas to help them through it.

 

1. Let them know it’s normal to have mixed feelings.

Talk about the different feelings they might have and help them to notice and name them. Ask your child what happens when they feel worried or excited or nervous. Where do they ‘feel’ the feeling in their body? Remind them that difficult feelings can be helpful and the body’s way of preparing for challenges and changes.

 

2.  Talk about worries.

Sometimes when we are going through a big change, we can worry about it and imagine that bad things are going to happen. Encourage children to talk about their thoughts and worries and how these thoughts and worries can make them feel. Remind them that just because they think it, it doesn’t mean it will happen! Noticing and talking about it can help them keep it under control.

 

3. Remember how you’ve managed in the past.

Talk about times when they have coped with change and what helped them through it. Share some of your experiences too. Think about things like moving house and starting a new club or job. How did you say goodbye to the old situations, people and places? What helped you move towards new ones?  Can you remember your feelings and how you managed them?

 

4. Make it more familiar.

Help the unfamiliar thing feel more familiar by talking about it and what is likely to happen. Encourage them to draw pictures or make a story about the change. Think of things they can do to be organised and prepared and try to set up new routines as soon as you can. Remember to keep some familiar things going as well - especially the things your child enjoys.

 

5. Practise relaxing.

Practise how to relax together so your child sees how to deal with difficult feelings in a healthy way. Help children think about how to stay calm and find out what works for them. Encourage them to make a box or a book full of these ideas and activities that they can use when they’re feeling overwhelmed.

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Helpful links

More practical advice, resources and information for families about this big step.

Helpful links
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