It's been a season of change for us here at Clever Mamas. Jill has welcomed her new baby girl to her family! And I (Kris) have moved a couple of provinces over into a very large city.
Change of any sort can be good, but it can also be very stressful. As adults we have the brain capabilities to know what is going on and (hopefully) have the tools to adjust. It's still a shake up to our system. Now take yourself back in time. You're just a little person and your whole world has been disturbed. Your brains aren't fully developed yet so you don't have the tools to deal with it all. That's the place my sons are in right now.
My boys are 5 and 2. They have lived in the same city their entire lives. They had a community of friends who loved them and a real sense of security. The city they lived in was relatively small.
Now they are in a huge city, a different house, a different school (for my oldest), and no friends aside from each other and mom and dad. I know I am emotional dealing with it all and I'm in my 30's. There are emotional reactions to be expected by my kids too (and surely many of them have arisen).
Here's some tips on how we are dealing with teaching our kids to deal with the change and challenges associated with moving.
1. We started to prep them for the move a while back. They knew that they would be moving after Christmastime this year. We talked about it a lot and looked up all the new things that their new city would have to offer them so that they had things that they could be excited about.
2. We had some good times in the goodbyes. Our oldest had a sleepover at his best buddy's house. We had a bit of company over in the last while and made sure that the people who were really important to our kids had a chance of a good visit.
3. We read books about moving. My parents gave our kids the book The Berenstain Bears Moving Day for Christmas which has been a great tool. Our local library had also created a Moving Day pack of books which we borrowed to use as a jump off for discussing the move with our kids.
4. We encouraged (and continue to encourage) our kids to talk about their feelings and help them label what's going on inside of them. Kids need to know the power of words. It's a great tool for anyone. To be able to say: "I feel sad", "I feel excited", "I feel angry" helps kids immensely sort out what is going on for them. You can help pull this out of them, give them the words they need to express themselves, what they are feeling and why. Allow them the freedom to have emotions, rather than bottle it away, deciding that they are too young to really know what's going on. It can be as simple as my 2 year old said to me the other day. "I'm sad mom, I want friends".
5. Use the tools you have but don't allow your kids to get away with too much while feeling so much. While this is the time to be understanding that there may be more emotional outbursts from your kids, it is not the time to let them get away with any poor behaviors, you don't want to be fixing that mess up later on. Keep your standards. Sure, there have been more time outs and consequences in my house lately, but they are necessary. Just because my kids are feeling sad does not allow them to start kicking, shouting at us, or picking on each other. My standards for behavior have to remain in tact or we won't be able to move on from this time of transition. There is a difference between being empathetic to their feelings and allowing them to wallow in self-pity. I'd rather be empathetic.
I'm sure many of you have your own tips and tricks for dealing with all sorts of life changes. Moving is just the one I'm dealing with now (next up for us is preparing for life with a new baby). Many tips transfer over from one situation to the next. I'd love to hear what tips you can offer me to help my family through this time too!