At this time of year, many children have just changed schools or may be leaving home for the first time to go to college or work. Nicola Baldwin, Spurgeons Parenting Lead and Debbie Pattison, Spurgeons Digital Counselling Manager, offer some tips to help you and your child cope with change.
Equip them with the skills they need beforehand. It will give both of you reassurance and confidence. If they are leaving home, get them to cook meals for the family before they go. Get them to help plan a holiday – how will you get there? How long will it take?
Praise the effort, not perfection. Your child might not always get everything right first time, but learning new skills is a process. Don’t say ‘that was nice but…’ because all they will remember is the words after ‘but…’!
Teach them how to think ahead and how to deal with potential problems. If they’re the new kid in class, how might they open a conversation with another child? Who might they ask for help if the bus doesn’t turn up? What will they do if
they get lost? What will they do if someone offers them drugs at college?
Show that change doesn’t have to be final. If they’re moving schools or home, how might they stay in touch with existing friends? You could have a party for all the children together and encourage them to swap their details so they can stay in touch via social media or Zoom. Or you could arrange for their friends to come and stay.
Make sure they know you’re still there for them! Tell them you love them, tell them you’ll miss them – but also how excited you are for them.
REALLY listen. Acknowledge your child’s feelings – tell them it’s quite normal to feel worried or anxious. Don’t always rush to ‘fix’ problems for them – often they’ll come up with the solutions themselves once they’ve talked it through with you. And that’s an important part of growing up.
Further advice and support:
Both Nicola and Debbie work for Spurgeons Children’s Counselling Services which are provided by Fegans.
Fegans, part of Spurgeons Children’s Charity, provides professional and effective therapeutic service to communities throughout the UK.
Fegans counsellors work one-to-one with children in our centres, online and in primary and secondary schools throughout the South East.
They also provide parenting support for families with significant challenges such as supporting those with additional needs.
Find out more about our Fegans Children’s Counselling Services, here.