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Coping with BIG changes:

A recipe to help your kid cope with change

by Adina Levy

For many of you in Sydney and Melbourne, you’re heading out of lockdowns and kids are going back to school! This can bring with it so many feelings for kids and parents alike. You might be going through other big life changes that make your child feel worried or anxious.

I’m sharing a simple recipe to help your kid feel more calm and prepared to cope with big changes!

Mother and Son preparing for a big change by talking and drawing

Tuned-in preparation conversations – A recipe to help the change ahead go as smoothly as possible

Ingredients:

1 x child

1 x parent

1 x calm space (reduce siblings, distractions and time pressure)

1 x piece of paper and plenty of coloured pens (optional but helpful if your child is a visual kind of kid!)

Perfect time to try this:

Afternoon or evening before school goes back, and re-visit it the morning before school (or evening then morning before any big change)

Method:

Have a tuned-in conversation with your child about how they’re feeling for the change coming up. What are they excited about? What are they looking forward to? What are they nervous about? You or your child can draw or write this on the paper if that helps!

For all the things your child is worried or nervous about, first validate their feelings. “It’s ok to feel worried about that, I’m also worried about how I’ll go talking to lots of people back in the office!”. Then come up with at least one thing they can do to feel better or calmer about it. Some ideas:

  • Practice a phrase your child can say to ask others if they can play
  • Practice a phrase to tell other kids in a friendly way that they don’t like the way a game is going
  • Help your kid select 2-3 calming items to bring to school and have available (you might want to talk to their teacher about this strategy so the items remain available), e.g. stress ball, fidget toy

Review and reflect:

At the end of the day, revisit your page of exciting things and worrying things. Discuss if your child found those things as exciting or as worrying as they’d expected. Discuss what they did well to cope with the tricky feelings. Discuss what else they could try next time. PRAISE THEM FOR THE AWESOME THINGS THEY DID and keep the encouragement up to help your child become more and more independent (over time!) with coping with tricky emotions

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