Being a military wife I often have to deal with change that comes my family’s way. Big cross country moves, making new friends, and of course the dreaded deployments are far too familiar changes that present themselves in the military life. It is often the children that take these changes the hardest. You must be proactive to ease the fear and anxiety that your children may feel. Change is inevitable for any family. But I have some tools you can use next time to prepare your children for new and exciting transitions:
Give them plenty of info: The more that your children know about the change that is happening, the less fearful of the unknown they will be. Let them ask as many questions as they want and be as truthful about what you know as you can. They may need some time to process new information before they will have any questions. So, check in with them to see if there is anything they may still be scared or fearful of. Be honest about your own feelings with your children without conveying too much of your anxiety.
Give them a “safety blanket”: Small children often rely on a safety blanket in those early years of learning and discovery, but don’t often have something similar for their older years. Pick out a memento together that symbolizes a time where they felt at home with you or that represents a good memory for them. Having this “safety blanket” can help with the transition in a time of big change and calm some of the anxieties your child may be feeling.
Call on that special family member or friend: If there is someone that your son/daughter is close to outside of your immediate family, such as a grandma or an uncle, then encourage your child to talk to them about any anxieties they may be having. Sometimes our children try hard to protect us and don’t want to burden us with their feelings. Having an outsider around for support can allow them an outlet to voice these fears and you can trust the advice that they are receiving back. Make sure the outside supporter has the correct information about the upcoming changes and knows what you feel comfortable with sharing with your children.
Set dates to look forward to: Children don’t do as well with looking forward to calendar dates. Try to set reminders of the time going by with live events that are easily memorable. Birthdays, holidays or even days that you make into a big deal for them can be great ways to count down the days towards something good happening. Little celebrations break up the big chunks of time and also create great memories in the meantime.
Change can be difficult for a family, but if you look at it in a positive light together you can embrace the possibilities that change can offer you.