“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.”
Have you ever asked yourself how you handle change? If you haven’t, take a moment to think about this. Some say change is an added benefit to their lives; those who welcome change view transitions as exciting opportunities for growth and new experiences. For many of us though, change comes with discomfort, fear, and uncertainty. We as adults know that change is a part of life. Nevertheless, we find ourselves resisting change because of the difficult feelings that come along with it. When it comes to resisting change, kids are no different. Kids and teens going through transitions often feel fear, doubt, and anxiety. These emotions are challenging for kids to recognize and verbalize. If you’re a parent who is struggling to support your child in the midst of these difficult feelings, you’re not alone.
The biggest and most important difference between how adults handle change and how children handle change is life experience. As we stumble through life, learning lessons the hard way and picking ourselves back up, we learn from our experiences. When facing transition adults will often reflect on past experiences to cope with current stressors:
“If I can make it through 2005, I can make it through this month.”
“This reminds me of the last time we moved. This time I’m going to be more organized.”
“I know that Jennifer went through something similar, and look at how well she’s doing now. I can do this”.
Without these past experiences, how would you know whether or not everything will be ok? Despite our encouragement and shared stories of experience, children do not have their own past experiences to inform future outcomes. The aftermath of change and transition can be terrifying for kids. However we can help support and guide children through tough transitions to encourage them to bounce back and rise up.
To start, here are 2 helpful tips for parents to keep in mind during times of transition
Walk your child through the process
Despite how resourceful, resilient, and remarkable your child may be, you should not assume that they will figure this one out on their own. Your children want your support and guidance, even if they act like they don’t. Remind your child that you’re there for support and provide advice without being pushy. Walking your child through the process can be a simple as listening to their woes or as involved as sitting down to brainstorm ideas to help resolve a specific issue.
Let them have their feelings
Like the above tip says, walking your child through the process of change can be as simple as offering up a listening ear (or 2). As a parent, you may want to fix or change the feelings your child has. Instead, allow your children to feel their pain; tell them that their feelings are valid; let them know that it’s okay to have those feelings. The more you normalize their feelings, the easier they can process and work through those feelings.
If your child is struggling with a difficult change,
learn more about our Child Therapy Services.
Contact us for a free phone consultation.
Lauren is a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist who is passionate about creating a safe space for families, couples, and individuals. Lauren provides her clients with skills and tools to change dysfunctional patterns in their lives. Lauren specializes in treatment for anxiety, food allergies, divorce/remarriage, and grief and loss.