Talking and listening are keys to helping children handle change. Yet, young children may not have developed the tools yet to clearly express what is bothering them.
Part of talking and listening may be investigative work. Parents and Learning Coaches may want to ask their children questions to help guide their children to what may be bothering them. Some helpful options that also work as coping with change activities include:
- Asking, “What are you feeling right now?”
- Asking, “What feels scary to you about this?”
- Encouraging the child to draw what is bothering them to show how they are feeling.
- Thinking about any recent differences that have occurred in the child’s life and asking them how they feel about each difference.
Once you have a better understanding of the issue, parents and Learning Coaches may be able to determine what is bothersome to the child about that change. For instance, if the child is changing to a new school, then the child may be anxious about the logistics of how school will work—where will they put their backpack, where will their desk be, how they will find the lunchroom, etc. These are all elements that can be addressed with your child ahead of time to help the change go smoothly.
If a child is still having trouble discussing what is bothering them, then parents and Learning Coaches might consider talking about these things during an activity. Research shows that having an activity to focus on while having a conversation can help to take off pressure that a child may feel, encouraging them to be more open with their feelings.