How to Help Your Kids With Big Adjustments

How to Help Your Kids With Big Adjustments

Change is hard, and most people out there don’t like big life ones. They can be scary, they can disrupt the order and routine in your life, and they come with a lot of questions. Big life changes can be very hard for many adults; however, they may be even harder for kids, who can’t quite grasp or understand the reason behind them.

When you make big changes in a child’s life, they’ll likely be scared, confused, and may even feel helpless or as though they don’t have a say in what’s happening. As a parent, or the important person in your child’s life, you’re in a perfect position to help him or her adjust to anything life throws their way. Whether you’re moving to a new state, a friend is moving away, or a sibling is going to college, here’s how you can help your child with any big adjustment in their life:

Prepare them.

No one likes to be blindsided. Whether you have teens or young ones, make sure they are aware of the change that’s about to happen and do your best to help them understand why it’s happening. Give them ample time to prepare, both mentally and physically. The more upfront, straightforward, and honest you are with your children, the easier the transition will be. Try to talk to your child about the challenges that may arise in the new situation and ease their mind that everything will be okay. The more prepared they are, the better they will be able to adjust.

Do your research.

Be prepared to talk your child through everything that is happening. The more prepared you are, the more prepared you can help your child be.

Answer their questions honestly.

There’s no doubt that children will have questions about whatever new situation awaits them. Maybe they’re going off to college and are nervous about what their experience will be like. It may help to tell them about your own experience. Be honest with them. Even if your kids are young, being open and honest will not only make any transition easier, it will also let them know that you respect them enough to answer them openly and this will help to build their trust in you. When going through a big change, your child needs to know they have someone on their side who they can talk to. This will help make them feel that way.

Keep as much the same as possible.

If possible, only give your child one big change at a time. Too much all at once will likely overwhelm them. While one area of their life may be drastically changing, try to keep everything else as normal as possible.

Let them be upset and take time to adjust

It’s not unlikely that when your child first learns of some adjustment they’ll need to make in their life, they might be upset. Everyone needs time to adjust to news and new situations. If your child isn’t happy with what’s changing, that’s ok. It doesn’t mean they won’t be happy eventually. Either way, give them time to adjust to what’s happening in their lives. Don’t try to talk them out of being upset or angry. Just let them feel what they feel.

Get them excited.

Many times, change can be fun. Whatever it is that’s happening, talk to your child about all the good things that will come of it. Moving to a new city? There will be so many new places to explore and new friends to make. Sibling going off to school? Now you’ll get so much more time with mom and dad. Keep yourself positive and excited and hopefully that enthusiasm will rub off on your child as well.

Give them the option to talk to someone else.

Maybe you can’t make your child feel better about the big change that’s happening. That’s completely okay. Give your child the option of talking to someone else, who may be able to help guide them through a tough or challenging time. Children can sometimes feel more comfortable talking to someone other than a parent, so if they need it, make sure, to give them that option. You can also look in your area for a professional that specialises in counseling children.

Having kids can be the biggest change that happens to anyone, and for the next 18 years, those children will also go through many changes for the first time – friends moving away, siblings going off to college, moving to take a new job. These things may seem like a very normal part of life – and they are – but it’s important to remember that for your kids, these new experiences are the beginning of a brand new kind of normal, and something that might take a little time to adjust to.


About the Author: Charity Ritter LISW-S

Charity Ritter MSW LISW is one of the founders of LIVE Wellness Center, Ltd. Charity received her Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Social Work from The Ohio State University. Charity holds a License as a Licensed Independent Social Worker in the State of Ohio. She received her training working with adults at Riverside Methodist Hospital in the Psychiatric Inpatient unit as well as outpatient counselling at Vineyard Counseling Center.

After receiving her degree, she worked with children and families at the Rosemont Center where she received training and experience in working with children and families with a variety of mental and behavioral health issues. She received experience working with sexually reactive youth and in advocating for and providing outpatient therapy for children and families with significant mental health and behavioral health issues.

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Anxiety shows up to check that you’re okay, not to tell you that you’re not. It’s your brain’s way of saying, ‘Not sure - there might be some trouble here, but there might not be, but just in case you should be ready for it if it comes, which it might not – but just in case you’d better be ready to run or fight – but it might be totally fine.’ Brains can be so confusing sometimes! 

You have a brain that is strong, healthy and hardworking. It’s magnificent and it’s doing a brilliant job of doing exactly what brains are meant to do – keep you alive. 

Your brain is fabulous, but it needs you to be the boss. Here’s how. When you feel anxious, ask yourself two questions:

- ‘Do I feel like this because I’m in danger or because there’s something brave or important I need to do?’

- Then, ‘Is this a time for me to be safe (sometimes it might be) or is this a time for me to be brave?

And remember, you will always have ‘brave’ in you, and anxiety doesn’t change that a bit.♥️

#positiveparenting #mindfulparenting #parenting #childanxiety #heywarrior #heywarriorbook
The temptation to fix their big feelings can be seismic. Often this is connected to needing to ease our own discomfort at their discomfort, which is so very normal.

Big feelings in them are meant to raise (sometimes big) feelings in us. This is all a healthy part of the attachment system. It happens to mobilise us to respond to their distress, or to protect them if their distress is in response to danger.

Emotion is energy in motion. We don’t want to bury it, stop it, smother it, and we don’t need to fix it. What we need to do is make a safe passage for it to move through them. 

Think of emotion like a river. Our job is to hold the ground strong and steady at the banks so the river can move safely, without bursting the banks.

However hard that river is racing, they need to know we can be with the river (the emotion), be with them, and handle it. This might feel or look like you aren’t doing anything, but actually it’s everything.

The safety that comes from you being the strong, steady presence that can lovingly contain their big feelings will let the emotional energy move through them and bring the brain back to calm.

Eventually, when they have lots of experience of us doing this with them, they will learn to do it for themselves, but that will take time and experience. The experience happens every time you hold them steady through their feelings. 

This doesn’t mean ignoring big behaviour. For them, this can feel too much like bursting through the banks, which won’t feel safe. Sometimes you might need to recall the boundary and let them know where the edges are, while at the same time letting them see that you can handle the big of the feeling. Its about loving and leading all at once. ‘It’s okay to be angry. It’s not okay to use those words at me.’

Ultimately, big feelings are a call for support. Sometimes support looks like breathing and being with. Sometimes it looks like showing them you can hold the boundary, even when they feel like they’re about to burst through it. And if they’re using spicy words to get us to back off, it might look like respecting their need for space but staying in reaching distance, ‘Ok, I’m right here whenever you need.’♥️
We all need certain things to feel safe enough to put ourselves into the world. Kids with anxiety have magic in them, every one of them, but until they have a felt sense of safety, it will often stay hidden.

‘Safety’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, but about what they feel. At school, they might have the safest, most loving teacher in the safest, most loving school. This doesn’t mean they will feel enough relational safety straight away that will make it easier for them to do hard things. They can still do those hard things, but those things are going to feel bigger for a while. This is where they’ll need us and their other anchor adult to be patient, gentle, and persistent.

Children aren’t meant to feel safe with and take the lead from every adult. It’s not the adult’s role that makes the difference, but their relationship with the child.

Children are no different to us. Just because an adult tells them they’ll be okay, it doesn’t mean they’ll feel it or believe it. What they need is to be given time to actually experience the person as being safe, supportive and ready to catch them.

Relationship is key. The need for safety through relationship isn’t an ‘anxiety thing’. It’s a ‘human thing’. When we feel closer to the people around us, we can rise above the mountains in our way. When we feel someone really caring about us, we’re more likely to open up to their influence
and learn from them.

But we have to be patient. Even for teachers with big hearts and who undertand the importance of attachment relationships, it can take time.

Any adult at school can play an important part in helping a child feel safe – as long as that adult is loving, warm, and willing to do the work to connect with that child. It might be the librarian, the counsellor, the office person, a teacher aide. It doesn’t matter who, as long as it is someone who can be available for that child at dropoff or when feelings get big during the day and do little check-ins along the way.

A teacher, or any important adult can make a lasting difference by asking, ‘How do I build my relationship with this child so s/he trusts me when I say, ‘I’ve got you, and I know you can do this.’♥️
There is a beautiful ‘everythingness’ in all of us. The key to living well is being able to live flexibly and more deliberately between our edges.

So often though, the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’ we inhale in childhood and as we grow, lead us to abandon some of those precious, needed parts of us. ‘Don’t be angry/ selfish/ shy/ rude. She’s not a maths person.’ ‘Don’t argue.’ Ugh.

Let’s make sure our children don’t cancel parts of themselves. They are everything, but not always all at once. They can be anxious and brave. Strong and soft. Angry and calm. Big and small. Generous and self-ish. Some things they will find hard, and they can do hard things. None of these are wrong ways to be. What trips us up is rigidity, and only ever responding from one side of who we can be.

We all have extremes or parts we favour. This is what makes up the beautiful, complex, individuality of us. We don’t need to change this, but the more we can open our children to the possibility in them, the more options they will have in responding to challenges, the everyday, people, and the world. 

We can do this by validating their ‘is’ without needing them to be different for a while in the moment, and also speaking to the other parts of them when we can. 

‘Yes maths is hard, and I know you can do hard things. How can I help?’

‘I can see how anxious you feel. That’s so okay. I also know you have brave in you.’

‘I love your ‘big’ and the way you make us laugh. You light up the room.’ And then at other times: ‘It can be hard being in a room with new people can’t it. It’s okay to be quiet. I could see you taking it all in.’

‘It’s okay to want space from people. Sometimes you just want your things and yourself for yourself, hey. I feel like that sometimes too. I love the way you know when you need this.’ And then at other times, ‘You looked like you loved being with your friends today. I loved watching you share.’

The are everything, but not all at once. Our job is to help them live flexibly and more deliberately between the full range of who they are and who they can be: anxious/brave; kind/self-ish; focussed inward/outward; angry/calm. This will take time, and there is no hurry.♥️

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