Savage is the founder and Executive Director of Hearts
at Home, an organization designed to encourage, educate,
and equip women in the profession of motherhood.
Hearts at Home
Helping Your Kids Deal With Change
CBN.com This fall my two youngest boys will be transitioning from a small, private, Christian school, to a large public junior high. One of my boys handles change very easily. The other resists change in every way.
As a mother, I’ve come to realize that my responsibility during transitions in life is similar to that of a tour guide. I determine where we’ll be going and then I guide the group to the sights along the way. I also lend a listening ear to frustrations and glitches that inevitably happen on any trip.
Change is difficult. It represents the unknown. And as moms we have to help the unknown become known. We have to be able to empathize without feeling that we have to fix every problem along the way. And we have to give love, often in large doses, to children who are struggling with changes they are experiencing in life.
If your kids are encountering a change due to a move to another city, a new school, or even the loss of a parent due to death or divorce, consider these tried and true tips from a mom who’s been there:
- Allow your children to grieve. When you move, change schools, or make any kind of change in life, you leave something behind. Let them talk about what they miss. Don’t try to point out all of the wonderful things about this new place they’re in---let them appropriately grieve what they have lost.
- Do some projects to commemorate what they are leaving. This helps them capture their special memories and gives them a creative way to always remember the season of life they are leaving behind.
- Be prepared to answer a million questions and make sure they feel safe to ask any question. Asking questions helps them process this change. Your patient, loving answers carry them through the transition.
- Orient them to their new environment. We’ve already made several trips to the new school to walk the halls, understand how the lunchroom works, check out the lockers, etc. Each trip causes them to feel just a little more comfortable with the change.
- Keep the home environment as stable as possible. If you are moving to a new city and your family loves to play games, take time each night to play a board game with the kids even if you still have a million boxes to unpack. Keeping family traditions and routines goes a long way in helping the child understand that the environment may have changed, but the relationships are still the same.
- If the change you are adjusting to is the absence of a parent due to death or divorce, intentionally work to create a new normal in family routines and traditions. Discuss both responsibilities and recreation you can do together as a family. This gives every family member ownership of the family’s routines.
- Give a lot of grace during the first weeks or months of a change. When our daughter transitioned from a small private junior high to a large public high school, she came home in tears everyday for the first two weeks. She didn’t know anyone, she sat alone at lunch, she didn’t realize how good she had it at her old school (which she couldn’t wait to leave!), the list went on and on. I had to resist the urge to rescue her or make some rash decision to let her return to her old school. The third week we had less tears, and the fourth week there were no tears. By two months into the school year, she loved her new school and her new friends. We just had to weather the change together.
Jill Savage (www.jillsavage.org) is the founder and Executive Director of Hearts at Home (www.hearts-at-home.org), an organization designed to encourage, educate, and equip women in the profession of motherhood. She is the author of five books including Professionalizing Motherhood, Is There Really Sex After Kids?, and her newest release My Heart’s At Home. Jill and her husband, Mark, have five children and make their home in Central Illinois.
Jill Savage (www.jillsavage.org)
is the founder and Executive Director of Hearts at Home (www.hearts-at-home.org),
an organization designed to encourage, educate, and equip women in the
profession of motherhood. She is the author of five books including Professionalizing Motherhood, Is There Really Sex After Kids?, and her
newest release My Heart’s At Home. Jill and her husband, Mark,
have five children and make their home in Central Illinois.
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