5 Ways to Help Your Kids Deal with Change

change

I took my older daughter shopping yesterday for school clothes. She’s an in-and-out kind of shopper. She knows what she wants, and if the store doesn’t have it, she wants to move on. We did a lot of moving on yesterday. After three hours of shopping, we had exactly two pairs of shorts and two shirts. Lucky for my daughter, this week is only a two-day school week.

My daughter has grown nearly three inches since the spring. Very little in her closet that’s appropriate for school still fits. Shorts that worked in the spring are too short now. Several of the T-shirts in her drawer barely cover her belly button. She has to have new school clothes.

Shopping for her was so difficult because not only does she strongly dislike glitter and rhinestones (which seem to be on EVERYTHING this fall), she’s stuck in that place where she’s too big for kids’ clothes but too small for juniors, which leaves an extremely limited selection of items from which to choose. For a kid who dislikes shopping, having to try on everything just to find a piece or two that fits is torture.

Our shopping trip reminded me that though my daughters are growing up quickly, there are going to be moments when they’re stuck in the awkward places, mired in the muck of transition. Whether it’s middle school, starting school, or simply moving from one grade to the next, every transition has its difficult moments.

So, with school starting for most of us in the next month, let’s focus on how we can make those difficult moments of transition a little bit easier for our kids.

  1. Prepare your kids for change. The worst thing I can do for either of my daughters is to not warn them that change is coming. When your child is faced with a transition, get them ready. Do what you can to make them comfortable. If that means you take them to school a day early to check the place out, then do that. If it means you learn everything you can about a new place, do that. If it means you have them talk to someone who has done what they are going to do, then do that.
  2. Cover the change in prayer. Nothing we do for our kids is as effective as praying for them as they make transitions. While we can’t see every pitfall, every worry, and every triumph, God can. He can lead our kids through a transition — even a difficult one — much better than we can. James 5:16 says “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
  3. Hold onto your perspective. It’s easy for us to get emotional when our kids are faced with change. As our kids grow, it’s easy to let our emotions overrun the situation. But when our kids are already emotional, throwing our emotions into the mix simply makes the situation more volatile. When your child is struggling with a transition, try to keep your emotions on an even keel — at least in front of your child — so that they feel like you think this transition is going to go well.
  4. Find something good in the situation. Change is scary. Not knowing what lies around the curve can cause anxiety. Help your kids find something to look forward to during the time of transition. If they’re moving to a new school, help your child focus on an activity or sport that the new school offers that the old one didn’t. Giving your child something good to focus on helps to alleviate a lot of the stress of the situation because you’ve already helped him decide that the situation isn’t all bad.
  5. Send your kids into a transition with a smile. Whether it’s a funny note in their lunch or a joke you told as they walked out the door, help your kids start their day with laughter. Nothing sends worry running like a smile or a laugh.

Change isn’t easy for anyone. For whatever reason, we’re hard wired to resist change. But change isn’t always bad. Growing up is a good thing. It’s not always easy for our kids to recognize that, though, which is why it’s so important for us to help our kids through the difficult moments of transition.

As you embark on your school year, remember that even if your child is caught in a season of transition, learning to deal with change helps them to grow. Keep them covered with your prayers and help them through this season. They’ll come out on the other side stronger and wiser.

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Changing from the Inside Out

I’m teaching 5th grade vacation Bible school this week. We have 54 kids who just finished fifth grade, and they are all in my class. While it’s a bit crazy, we’re having a blast learning about God and His amazing power.

Yesterday, we learned about the ABCs of becoming a Christ follower and had several kids turn their lives over to Jesus for the first time, which is always exciting.

As I got ready for today’s lesson, though, I realized that too often,¬†we focus our attention on teaching these kids to become Christ-followers and once they make the decision to follow Jesus, we start telling them things like “Be more like Jesus” or “What would Jesus do?” We make it sound like they can become more like Jesus all on their own.

Somewhere in all the excitement and joy over a child choosing to follow Jesus, we lose sight of the fact that Jesus has to do the changing. No one can change themselves to become more Christ-like.

We can try.

But we will fail.

Life as a Christ follower isn’t about striving to be more like Jesus. It’s about letting Jesus change us from the inside out. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!” And too often, we give kids the impression that they can be more like Jesus just by trying harder.

Make the point that true change comes when we let Jesus change our hearts. Hand your kids a wig and some funny clothes and shoes. Ask them to put them on. You can even use some face paint to alter their faces. Now, ask them if they are a different person than they were before they put on the clothes and shoes. The answer is no. Even though we’ve changed their outward trappings, they’re still the same person.

Explain that trying to be more like Jesus on our own is like putting on the funny clothes and shoes. We might be able to make ourselves look different for a little while, but we’re still the same person underneath. We can put on the trappings of a Christ follower — going to church, saying the right things, trying to act the right way — but never be changed on the inside.

Now, give your kids a ball of clay. Give them a minute to create something out of the clay. Then have them smoosh it up and make something else. Explain that when we let Jesus change our hearts from the inside out, then we truly become a new creation. The clay is still clay even though it changes form. God isn’t going to change our talents or the intrinsic pieces that make us who we are, but He is going to make us into an image of Jesus. As we follow Him, He will mold us to be more like Him because He will change our hearts, which creates lasting change.

Our kids need to know that it’s not their responsibility to change their behavior to be more Christlike. Striving to do so on our own just leads to failure. It is our responsibility to learn more about Jesus and ask Him to change us — from the inside out.

What part of your life do you need to let God change today?

The Winds of Change

In about a week, our household is will undergo a big change. I’m headed back to work for the next two months. While I currently do freelance work from home, I haven’t gone into an office every day in more than nine years. This job is still a freelance job, but I have to go into an office every day except Friday. It’s a great opportunity, but my girls are less than excited about the whole idea. As a matter of fact, every time we bring the subject up, they get all weepy-eyed.

My youngest is worried about who will do her hair on the mornings her dad is getting her off to school. My oldest is concerned about her grandparents picking her up from school one day a week. Both are legitimate concerns, but they are just expressions of the much deeper cry of “I don’t want my life to change.” In that respect, kids are just like adults. How often do we face a change in our lives with anxiety and tears?

We often like to think that kids are extremely adaptable, but change is just as hard for them as it is for us. Sometimes it’s harder because they may not understand all the reasons behind the changes in their lives. My girls always experience anxiety the night before a new school year. It’s the same type of anxiety I might feel before starting a new job.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Solomon talks about how life is full of change and that God provides a season for everything. He says:

“There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

God has given us a time for everything. But sometimes those seasons come upon us, and they require that our lives change. I don’t know about you, but I’m as bad as my children sometimes. God asks me to make a change in my lifestyle, and I kick and scream and cry and say “But I like my life.” Seasons in life come and go, but God is constant. Despite our dislike of change, those changes help us to grow both emotionally and spiritually.
 
Helping our kids understand the changes in their lives, whether they are big or little, can make big life changes happen more smoothly in your household. Change also allows our kids to see that God uses those changes for a bigger purpose. Prepare your kids for big life changes, whether it’s a change in your employment status, a move or just the promotion to a new grade.

  • Show your kids pictures of themselves as babies. Have them point out the things that have changed about their bodies since they were small. Then, help them find the things that haven’t changed. Ask them if they would want to remain a baby forever. Talk about how God designed us to grow and change. Remind them that if we never changed, then we would never be able to talk or walk. Talk about how sometimes changes in our lives help us to be ready to do new things. A move can make us better at making friends or put us in a place where there are different opportunities available to us.
  • If you know that your family will be making a big change, don’t spring it on your kids at the last minute. Give them as much time as you can to get used to the idea. Answer their questions and do your best to calm their fears. Remind them of Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” God allows us to go through changes so that He can use those things for good. Help them think of a time when they were afraid or anxious about a change, but it turned out to be a good thing.
  • Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 with your kids. Try to identify times in your lives that match the seasons mentioned in the passage (when you get to the time to kill passage, you might look at it in terms of things that you have to get rid of in your life rather than actually killing someone). Helping your kids identify different seasons in their own lives will help them see that this change is just another season.
  • Go outside and talk about the current season. Talk about what each person likes and dislikes about that particular season. Remind your kids that the seasons change and each one is different and brings different adventures and challenges. Remind your kids that our lives have seasons, too, and each season of life brings its own adventures and challenges. No matter what season we are in, though, God is always with us.

I don’t know what season of life you are currently in. You may be raising preschoolers or you may be trying to decide what your purpose is now that your kids are in school all day. Whatever the season, remember that God has plans for you and your children in this particular season. Embrace the season you’re in and enjoy all that it has to offer. As the season begins to change, remember that God has good things in store for you and your children in the next season as well.