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Minimizing the impact of change on your child

Minimizing the impact of change on your child

Change happens. Some changes are big, such as getting married or divorced, moving or birth of a new baby. Other changes may be smaller, but still can add up over time. Whether changes are life changing or minor inconveniences, they can cause stress.

Some people really like change and others detest it. Whether you like it or not, change can still cause stress. Adults and children alike are affected by the stress of change. Continued stress can cause a number of health problems in children, ranging from headaches and upset stomachs to more severe health problems such as altering brain structure and emotional regulation.

Changes happen to all of us. Family situations change and world events occur that impact our lives. There are things that we can do to reduce the impact that the change has on our children.

Explain change

Talk to your child about future changes and how it will affect them. It may be an expected change, like starting school, a new sibling or something unexpected like a divorce or move. Explain in simple language how the change will affect his or her daily life.

Maintain routines

Children thrive on routine. They wake up, eat breakfast, go to day care and see their friends. Knowing that bedtime is still 8:00 and story time follows brushing teeth can help children feel safe by knowing what is expected in their changing world. You may not be able to eliminate a change such as a move to a new location, but you can attempt to maintain your child's routine as much as possible.

Plan ahead

Planning ahead is imperative to make the transition as smooth as possible for big events such as moving houses, traveling, combining households, etc. Anticipate physical needs, emotions and kids to have questions when it comes to a change in their lives.

Offer choices

Think about ways you can give your child control during the change. Your child may have to move to a new placeā€”but he can sleep on the same pillow or choose the color of paint for the room. She may have to change childcare providers but she can choose what she wants to wear the first day. Having some control, even over minor things can help all of us adapt to change.

Be a good role model

When changes happen, children will look to you and other adults for guidance. How you react will give them clues on how to act. If you react with alarm or are overcome by stress, a child may be more anxious. If you are a good manager of the change in your life, your child will feel more self-assured in managing his own stress.

Reassure your child

Be sure to give them extra loving. Give more hugs, kisses and physical contact to help reassure them and stay connected. This is good for both them and you especially during difficult times. Your children will realize that life will eventually return to normal.

Kids really are resilient. With a little forethought on a parent's side, you can help manage a child's stress-level and adaptability to change in their life.

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