Change can be difficult for any of us but it is particularly more challenging for young children.
As adults we have had so many different experiences, that when we think of change we can visualise what the new experience might look like. The chances are we will have had a similar experience in the past that we can compare it to, so we can at least have some idea of how it will be. Failing that we have the communication, ability and resources to ask others, browse the internet and answer any questions or worries that we may have.
Children do not have this level of understanding, communication or past experience to be able to comprehend even the slightest change, which is why even something small like offering the blue cup instead of their usual pink cup can turn a small child’s world upside down. They will understandably feel overwhelmed, so if you can imagine this feeling, teamed with the lack of ability to understand or communicate their thoughts and feelings, you can begin to understand how scary the experience must be.
It was my daughter’s recent sports day that got me thinking about this. I had been talking about it regularly with her and she had been enjoying practice games in nursery but on the day, she walked to the field full of excitement, arrived and burst into tears. She eventually over came this once she could see and understand what was happening and thoroughly enjoyed it but it reminded me that we must ensure that we are communicating to children in a way that they understand.
As we are going away next week I decided to make my daughter an ‘I can see’ board, with pictures of everything she might experience on holiday, including where we will sleep, eat, what we will take with and what we will see and do when there. She absolutely loved it and when we talk about holiday she can describe where she will stay and what we will do etc because she can visualise it. I truly believe that if we prepare children through images, objects and through sight rather than just words they will have a deeper understanding of what is going to happen. This will help them to feel better prepared and they will cope much better when the time of change comes.
Founder of Sunny Kids Shine