One thing in life is always constant and that is that life will change. I'm not trying to sound like an insurance commercial here, but it's true: life changes. Sometimes it's small things like our hair color or new do. Other times it can be big enough to turn your world upside down. Helping your children get through these transition times can be challenging. Here are some tips to help make these challenges easier.
1. Pray about it
As with anything you face in life, take it to the Lord in prayer first. Do not neglect to hear the voice of the Lord concerning the matter. Perhaps he may be leading you another direction that will protect you down the road and save you a lot of heartache. Once you hear an answer, ask God to help you know how and when to handle it with your family. Ask the Holy Spirit to make you sensitive to the right time to share your news with your children. Ask Him to help you to be ready with the right answers when they are presented to you.
2. Be honest in talking about the change with your child
So many times parents want to protect their child from the harsh realities of life, not realizing that children can read past the words being said and understand way more than we ever give them credit. Most of the time, speaking truth about the circumstance will provide for a healthier, trusting relationship in the long run. If lies are told, trust is ruined, making irreparable relationships.
Actively listen to your child's feelings about the change. Sometimes even good news can be hard to deal with, and maybe there is a misunderstanding of what your child thinks change means versus reality. If you are able to hear past the behaviors of your child and more about why they are acting out, you might better connect to their fears and anxiousness about what's going on. Stop and listen to what they have to say. Then speak life into their hearts. Let them know they are not going through this alone. God is always with them.
3. Find the Silver Lining
I have to say, I am one that always finds the silver lining in everything. It comes naturally to me, but not to everyone. Sometimes it has to be practiced. But one thing is for sure, no matter what the circumstance, there is ALWAYS a silver lining! Sometimes the silver lining is just that you learned something through your experience or it helped you build character, but there is always something you can say that will "make the medicine go down". Find that thing for your child in your change. Help them find the good in what is happening.
4. Prepare your child for the big day
Helping your child be ready for the change as soon as you are able, will make all the difference in the results of having a positive experience. Get online and search for material that will help your child understand the change. If you are moving to a new area, research your surroundings and find fun information about that area. Maybe visit that area or talk to someone that lives there or has gone through the same experience that your child is going through. Visit your local library and find books on the topic that pertains to the situation. Books help children see that they are not alone in going through this. It also shows them what other people have done to handle their fears or excitement and gives them an idea what life might be like in their new circumstance.
Another way to help your child feel more prepared is to let them "count down" the days to the big event. One idea is to make a paper chain that a link can be taken off daily and the event takes place when there is no more chain. You could also purchase a special calendar and mark off each day that goes by getting them closer to the event. This can also be done to help them get through an event (like cancer treatments) by marking off all the "done" days until it's over. Celebrate the day with a special treat. Make a day that is remembered each year that God brought you through that time.
5. Seek counseling if needed
A lot of events of change can be traumatizing for children (and adults alike). Don't be afraid to seek counsel for life changing events. Sometimes a child needs someone to work out that hard stuff that maybe they don't understand is even bothering them. Give them space to have a safe place to share how they are feeling with someone that is not personally involved in the event. Sometimes just talking it out with someone provides the healing that children need. The sooner they are able to identify the problem, the healthier they will be as life's challenges come upon them.
6. Let People Know Your Need
If you are going through life changes, don't keep it to yourself. There are always those around you that want to help, but they have to know there's a need before they can help you. Speak up and let people know what ways they can help you. Maybe you just need a friend to talk to, maybe a few meals during the challenging times would be helpful. Maybe you need help moving something or a place to crash for the night or a babysitter while you're taking care of business. Whatever it is, God has given the church to be the hands and feet of Jesus, so let them know your needs.