Moving day is fast approaching and as parents, you’re incredibly excited for this new chapter in your life but for your child, seeing all their belongings disappear in boxes and bubble wrap is causing them all kinds of fear and anxiety. The unknown is frightening, even for you. The only difference is that you’ve learned to accept and appreciate the new and old, whereas small children have yet to be presented with this opportunity. The good news is you can help your little one with the change by executing these simple strategies that teach them that change isn’t all that bad.
Lead by Example
The most important strategy any parent can have under their belt is to lead by example. Children learn by watching their parents. They copy your behaviors, thoughts, feelings and mannerisms which eventually form them into miniature versions of you. This is typically a beautiful thing to watch, assuming they’re only taking in the positives.
However, children don’t cycle out the good and the bad from what they see. They start copying everything you do, including the way you react to stressful situations.
As such, it’s imperative to pay attention to the ways you handle the inevitable stresses of moving. While there’s no denying that there will be many ups and downs, remember that little eyes are watching and take it as an opportunity to teach themselves about stress management.
Create a Visual Calendar
Children are excellent visual learners. The more colors, patterns, shapes and textures they can lay their eyes on, the more excited they are about whatever they’re looking at.
Use this to your advantage as moving day approaches by creating a visual calendar that counts down the days to the move. This will eliminate any surprises which, will also decrease any anxiety and hopefully increase excitement.
Keep Routines the Same
As every parent knows, kids are all about routine. You miss their bedtime by 5 minutes and suddenly, it’s like a tornado has erupted in your living room. The secret to keeping toddler meltdowns at bay is all about keeping routines the same.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always plausible when it comes to moving but it’s important to make consistency a priority within your family, especially leading up to moving day.
If you always watch a TV show and then read a book before bed, stick with that routine even though you’re completely exhausted after a long day of bubble wrap and packing tape. If your child goes to bed at a specific time, make sure his bedroom is unpacked in time for him to sleep. If they’re used to a specific type of cereal in the morning, make sure you have a fresh box for the morning after the move. These simple efforts will make a huge impact.
Communicate Regularly About the Changes
One of the best strategies for helping small children cope with change is communication. It’s as simple as that. Be open and honest with your little one. Inform them of the changes they can expect, talk about how it makes them feel, and talk them through this transitional period.
Set Aside Special Time for Your Little One
When you’re running around managing all the rigorous tasks of moving, special one-on-one time can slip away from you when night finally falls. However, taking an extra 30 minutes a day for your child to play, cuddle, sing, explore, dance – whatever they want – will prove to be incredibly beneficial during this time. The anticipated change is making them uncomfortable and extra time with mommy or daddy will reassure them that everything is going to be the same again… Once the boxes are cleared out.
Change isn’t always a bad thing and now is the perfect time to teach your child just that. With these strategies for helping small children cope with change, you’ll see a significant decrease in stress and anxiety as moving day approaches.