The world is constantly changing. The pace of change in our world right now is more rapid than it’s ever been and though life is full of transitions and adjustments, most of us are resistant to them. Whether the change is welcome or not it inevitably brings some amount of stress. The Coronavirus has disrupted our lives in countless ways and created an amount of stress and uncertainty that is difficult to navigate for even the wisest people. Now even normal changes like going back to school are more stressful than they’ve ever been.
As adults, we’ve developed coping mechanisms for dealing with trying times. However, children are just now learning how change and uncertainty makes them feel. As we go back to school this season, under new guidelines and precautions here are some ways to reduce stress and anxiety in our children as they change classrooms, meet new friends and teachers, enter into new environments and experience myriad changes in their lives.
Give yourself and your child as much info as possible about the upcoming change.
In the days and weeks leading up to a change (such as starting a new classroom or school, moving, a parent moving out, gaining a new sibling) gather as much information about the upcoming event as possible. Introduce your child to his/her new teacher or classmates, let him see his new classroom, let her pick out her bedroom in the new house, etc. Knowing details prior to the change can help your child know what to expect. Children understand much more than we think they do.
Keep as much the same as you can.
During times of change do your best to stick to other norms as best as possible. Stay on top of your routines so that despite the fact that some things in life are changing, there are other things that are comforting and familiar.
Answer all questions.
It’s tough answering all the questions of child. They are endless! It’s important that as parents we are patient and understanding especially during times of transition. Remember that your little one is experiencing these situations and feelings for the very first time and they are counting on you for love, support and guidance.
With big changes there are often big regressions. If your child is potty trained it’s totally normal for her to have an accident or two (or three or four) during a transitional time. If your child just got a new sibling, it’s not out of the ordinary for him to want to drink from a bottle again. Regressions like these are all coping mechanisms. This behavior is normal and will pass quickly in most cases. Letting your child know that “it’s okay” will help them work through the stress more easily.
Spend extra time together.
If possible, spend some extra time with your child. Go out for ice cream for no reason or take her to a new park or play area. Getting a little extra love and attention during hard times can help calm fear and anxiety.
These recommendations have been gleaned from years of teacher and director experience as well as several books on parenting. We highly recommend the books below.
Books for Kids
Books for Parents