Change can be both exciting and tricky!  You may be moving, going to a new school, trying a new afterschool activity, taking a trip or having guests over. Consistency and predictability provide the foundation for your child to feel safe and secure. So giving your child preparation for an upcoming change allows them to adjust and build their emotional regulation skills in a supported way. Change is taxing, even when it is something fun, and some kids have a harder time than others with transitions to something new. 

Here are some tips for helping to prepare your child for change:

  • Let them know a change is coming up in advance; the bigger the change, the earlier you want to start this conversation
  • Preview the change- visit the new house or school, or print photos of an upcoming trip destination
  • Open up the conversation to questions from your child- you will then get to see how the upcoming change is landing for your child emotionally and if they have worries, excitement or upset
  • Let them know you are so happy they can tell you their feelings
  • Give them more details about the change and create a sequence on paper/whiteboard so they can see how many days (months) until the change is happening
  • Talk explicitly about what they think will be easy about the change and what they think will be tricky and repeat what they have said, so your child feels you understand them 
  • Start to problem-solve together how to help the tricky parts can go more smoothly; this teaches your child how to plan for self-soothing
  • Consider making a ‘menu’ with your child of photos of their self-soothing activities/items; this may include favorite stuffy, favorite snacks, snuggles with mom or dad, favorite music, calming games, breathing, etc.  
  • Plan physical activities before and during the ‘change’ so your child has a physical outlet for their big emotions, whether excitement, worry, or upset.

Change creates the opportunity for you to support your child’s skills in preparing for something new. You then help your child to build important emotional regulation skills including noticing how they feel, verbalizing feelings, planning for an upcoming change, and preparing for the need to self-calm using specific strategies that work for them. Amazing☺