She hated change from day one!
My precious daughter didn’t like blankets or stuffed animals washed, anything in her room moved, never wanted new comforters, etc. She liked sameness and lived well there. I washed her blankets and animals, but always preceded with forewarning and preparation.
I worked around her wishes, at home. When she started school, the challenge began. Every school year brought tears. For three weeks, she wanted to return to her former grade and teacher. Change/transitions proved difficult. With input at home, she’d slowly adjust.
For four straight years, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th grade, she attended four different schools; we never moved! The county kept redistricting and our neighborhood caught all the changes! Wow! She got blasted with change. If we requisitioned to keep her at the old school, she’d be in school with none of the neighborhood. That was a “No”. It was almost laughable; it was so ridiculous, but, Olivia was not laughing. “Tragically overwhelmed” would better describe her emotions. We battened down the hatches and prepared for the hurricane.
When we made the move to school #2, we had a few months notice. School #3 was expected, she moved from elementary to middle school. Preparation for #4 school, one summer.
* Talking about new beginnings; what’s ahead can be exciting with unanticipated benefits.
* Familiarizing her with the new surroundings, before school started.
* Reading children’s books on change.
* Sharing changes that happened in my life, I wasn’t expecting.
* Talking about what wouldn’t change; ride the bus with the same children, same classes; PE, library, music, art (elementary), etc.
* Pointing out a few children, outside our neighborhood, going to the new school.
* Reassuring her, we would volunteer, like at her old school.
* We prayed, she prayed, and we prayed together.
* Tried to help her verbalize her fears and uncomfortableness. Empathized with her.
* Acknowledged and dealt with her fears, as much as possible, ahead of time.
Key: Facing the mountain together as a team: she wasn’t facing this alone!
* Normalized her experience: welcomed and unwelcomed changes happen in everyone’s life. We emphasized to her, we couldn’t predict what her adult life would be like, but we knew she’d have changes.
* Helping her identify her emotions; hard, difficult, nervous, uncomfortable, homesick, overwhelmed, anxious, scared, etc.
* Positive outlook: “you can”, “it will”, “adjust”, “easier every day”, “new familiar”, new friends, etc.
* Reassurance God would be with her even when we weren’t.
* Gave her a concrete action; whenever uncomfortableness surfaced in her stomach or head, talk to God silently and ask Him to give you peace.
* Tucked encouraging notes in her lunch and backpack.
* Equipped her with promises God made:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
“And, behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
If change is hard for you, or someone in your life, this tried method, helped Olivia conquer the mountains that cropped up on her unsuspecting journey; four years in a row. Maybe, some of it will assist you.
Fast forward a decade and a half…. She’s been married four years, moved three times: by far the best mover, I know. She packs a house and orchestrates moving a household like a pro. When her feet hits the new soil, she integrates herself into the community. Which she says, “makes a new place feel more like home.”
What’s difficult as a child, can truly serve you later in life. I know, this chapter in her life prepared her to cope with changes ahead. By the way, she liked all four schools, equally. When we took a positive approach and equipped her with some tools, she gave her best and got better at accepting change. It seemed a lot to ask of a young one, but she rose to the challenge.
Doing life together and helping each other face challenges, makes life easier: dividends pay out in the future.
What change has been hardest in your life or your child’s life?
Momma Heartstrings Tugged,
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