Change is the only thing which is permanent!
And in today’s world transitions are an inevitable part of life-Relocating, change of school, a new city/home…
Yet, most children don’t handle change well. Even seemingly insignificant transitions- from play to dinner- can be a tantrum throwing trip!
Here are Top 5 FAQs parents have about adjusting their children to a new environment and some tips to help.
1. Why does one of my kids adjust to new places and people easily while the other one cries?
General personality influences how kids react to change. Some get energized by new situations, others are happier with routine. Avoid admonishing the reticent child and praising the more adapting one, remember it’s a personal preference they are born with!
2. What are some usual behaviors I can expect from my child during any major transition?
Toddlers usually don’t register much; predictability and a set routine is enough to assure them. Preschoolers MAY temporarily regress to bedwetting, thumb sucking and clinging. School going kids have high social anxiety about fitting in, so there could be a few emotional and academic problems. Teens may be resistant to the change and may get moody and stubborn.
3. Will frequent moves to a new environment cause permanent emotional problems with my child?
Not if parents handle the process with care! Children have feelings too- kids as young as four will be able to tell you how scary any change is! So make sure a Parent (not friends or relatives) informs the child about the shift. Answer your child’s questions about the transition; try to allay their fears. Get your children involved in the move preparation, give them their own little “to do” list so that they can feel part of the process.
4. What are the best ways to acclimatize my child to a new environment?
Children adapt much better to a new environment if they can establish familiarity. Create a “village” for your child. Move around, Interact with fellow parents from the same school/locality, call a kiddy- gang over for play-dates. Visit the new school before the term begins. And be optimistic; an upbeat parent is likely to influence their child to be positive as well.
5. My child still misses his old home and school friends. He seems to mope and is quiet.
Figure out why. Was the move stressful with no time for goodbyes? Is the child not being able to make new friends? Keeping in touch with old friends through letters, calls, brief visits is also extremely essential. An important lesson: New bonds need not mean severing old ones, a value your child will carry forward in life!
Healthy adjustment to any transition calls for 2 golden rules all parents need to follow- Sensitivity and Open Communication.
(Published in RobinAge, July 2009)