Helping Your Child Deal With Change

Helping Your Child Deal With Change

Change is inevitable. Most children with special needs take comfort in routines and rituals, and any change, no matter how small, can be scary and overwhelming. Helping your child prepare and successfully cope with any type of change is necessary and an important life skill to embrace. There are a few strategies that can help you prepare her for the transitions that life brings her way.

Plan Ahead

In a lot of cases, change is a foreseen event, especially if the change coming is a big occasion (i.e. moving, birth of a sibling, or start/end of school). This allows you some time to help prepare your child. Be open and honest with her about what is going to happen. Visiting the library or websites online can help educate and familiarize her with the subject. Creating a countdown calendar that she can view and mark off daily can help create a visual timetable and can be a very useful tool.

Stick to the Routine as Much as Possible

For most children with special needs, having a routine brings predictability that is often relaxing and comforting. Maintaining as much familiarity as possible while transitioning will help make it smoother. You may be surprised how keeping her bedtime consistent, even when on vacation, or maintaining the same household expectations with the TV, even after moving, can help stabilize her in an unstable environment.

Prepare to Use Calming Techniques

No matter how much you prepare your child for any type of change, there is still a good chance that she may become overwhelmed or experience anxiety. Being proactive by preparing for those types of reactions is important. For some it may be a special item, like a blanket or toy, while for others it may be an action or movement. Knowing what helps relax her , and having it ready to use, can make transitions easier for everyone.

Remain Positive

Children pick up on the moods and attitudes of others. No matter how stressful or overwhelming the situation is for you, it will be worse for your child. Even in undesirable situations, having a positive attitude can make a huge difference. Always remain open and willing to listen to her fears and worry, then find a few positive things to say about the situation that can help combat her anxiety. For example, if she is worried about a long car ride, you may mention how much fun she will have at the beach, or how nice it will be to see her grandparents. And you can plan fun activities to do during the car ride!

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Helping Your Child Deal With Change
Shandy Marso, Contributor

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