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Navigating Change

“I forgot that my kindergartner’s daycare was in a different classroom. I felt her getting uncomfortable as we walked down the hall, and I Immediately started talking about familiar people and things we would see when we got to the new room.”

This wise mom pays attention to her daughter’s reactions to a new situation and gives her tools to help her feel more comfortable. In our fast-paced time, children are asked to adapt to change in many forms—moving to a new home, traveling to other countries as a family, parents flying across the globe for work, construction to add rooms to our houses, renovating classrooms, having a new nanny.

Every child responds to change differently, and their reactions can sometimes be hard to understand. Children often don’t articulate their internal responses to new experiences, and the behaviors may happen after changes have already occurred. Sometimes young children become clingy, regress in potty training or sleeping alone, have emotional explosions, or become rigid and demanding.  

A mom called me because her six-year-old child suddenly had to control everything in their lives—from the dish she would eat from to where they would park their car. As we talked, she realized that her daughter had started a new summer program and didn’t know anyone. Becoming rigid and controlling is one of the stress reactions to new situations, and talking about their feelings can allow children to settle back into their comfort zone over time.

When children are going through big changes, it’s important to keep their routines at home strong and to be aware that they may need more time with us for emotional support.

One of our schoolwide learning objectives is being open to new learning. As we enter a new year, we can contemplate that many changes will occur, and the best thing we can do for our children is to be aware of shifts in life as they are happening and be patient with ourselves and our children as we learn to adapt and flourish in new circumstances.


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