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Helping Kids Deal With Change

Updated May 11, 2021

Audrey Rider

SDSU Extension Early Childhood Field Specialist

Mother and young daughter wearing masks in an outdoor park.

Even though our world may seem like it has slowed down since the start of the pandemic, it is actually changing now more than ever, and it can be overwhelming to us as adults. But think about what it is like for kids to deal with change and watching their parents and providers dealing with the changes. Here are some tips to help get through these times.

  • Recognize your child’s feelings and behaviors.
    Tantrums, constant need for attention, sleeping problems, and bed-wetting may all be signs they are not adjusting to the changes in the household or center. Take the time to talk to your child and acknowledge what is happening so you can help them understand their feelings and feel comforted.

  • Spend time with your child and take time to be present with them.
    Go for a walk, paint, dance, etc. Most important just pause what you are doing and take time to truly be present with your child.

  • Take time for you!
    It is ok to step back and just breathe. Self-care is often pushed to the side when we are stressed or dealing with change. You must take time to rest, build up your own strength, and know that you are not alone before you can help others.

  • Social distancing should not mean distancing ourselves from our support systems.
    Instead it should be called physical distancing. You must maintain your systems of support such as friends, family, and co-workers. Reach out and talk to each other and support one another. We don’t have to be isolated and deal with the change alone we just have to physically distance ourselves from others. There are lots of ways to teach kids how to still be “social” even if they may be different from what they are used to.

Silence can also send some strong messages and can confuse children. When adults are silent and avoid the discussions, it sends the message to kids that the changes are not ok to talk about and can cause more anxiety and unease. It also forces them to figure out their feelings on their own and rely on other sources such as neighbors, friends, and technology to deal with the changes.

Children are constantly watching you and your behaviors, and they rely on you to help them figure out what is the truth and how to understand what is happening in the world today. Take the time to embrace these learning experiences and time with your child. You may find that it will be beneficial to both you and your child.