The world is moving and families are moving with it. The word change has always been a part of a child’s vocabulary. However, does that necessarily mean that children react in the same way towards change?
If you are in a room where everyone is seated and you ask ten people to change their seats, you will probably see ten different behavioural reactions to your request. You will see people move to a new seat the minute you ask them, without needing any information or explanation and who are just happy they have the opportunity to move and be surrounded by different people. It is also very probable that you will see people looking around as they choose their new seat, looking for people they feel like sitting beside, or simply for a better seat than the previous one. You will see people swop seats with someone they never met before, but they are reassured by the fact that the first person that sat beside them is still next to them. Finally, you will see people who simply stay in their seats.
If this is the scenario in a room with only ten people, why shouldn’t we expect similar reactions from children in moments of change, such as moving to a different country, house, city or even to a new bedroom?
I don’t know of any rules or plans that create harmony each time there is change and cause the same reaction the moment before the change takes place. Each type of change is different. It depends on what the change is, the child’s emotional state at that particular moment, his/her age and the context in which the change happens. It is a myth to believe that all of the factors involved in one particular change are the same in every other moment of change.
And yet there are some things that can help to create more harmony and more balance in moments like these:
- Involve the child in the change. Think that knowledge brings security and surprise brings constant attention and tension. Make sure that how you involve your child is in proportion to his/her age. If the child is very young, a story is a great way to involve him/her. If your teenager asks questions and shows interest, involve him/her in the decision making process.
- Talk openly about the change and about the moving process.This is something the whole family should discuss together, not only the parents. Secrets will create more secrets.
- Open up about your own emotion. This gives children the opportunity to also talk about how they feel and that is the only window of opportunity you have to help them deal with all the emotions they have about moving.
- Give children specific tasks relating to the moving process. This also depends on their age. They can help with packing, cleaning and choosing the things they want to take with them or give away, organizing documents, choosing the new school and activities etc.
Remember that each one of you is also changing, so respect and attention are important principles for harmony and happiness in your family.
Ligia Ramos * In2Motivation