Helping Kids Deal with Change

This post was originally published on October 21, 2018.

Change is hard.

Sometimes my kids handle change really, really well. Other times… well, not so much. Being a mom means I am required to adapt to change all the time—the demands of an infant are so different that those of a toddler or tweenager. And the demands of preschool are completely different than middle school! I feel like being a parent has made me become so much more aware of how I adjust to change, and has made me become a student of how my kids deal with changes and curve balls. The changes that we all deal with as moms are never-ending. Things like waking up to a sick kid at 2 am. All of my carefully crafted plans for the day go out the window, let alone my plan for a good night’s sleep.

Change Comes in All Sizes

Change can be big like a new school or a new house or good friends moving away. They can be smaller and more mundane, like the change of today’s plans or the transition from school to summer. Or vacation! Some of my biggest challenges as a mother have come when we are in the midst of change. Sometimes I am aware of the change, and other times I realize later that I was clueless. Sometimes as a parent we just don’t know, and that is ok. We do our best. Is that teething or a temper tantrum? Is that “hangry” or a temper tantrum? Is that anxiety or a temper tantrum? Is this a growth spurt or a temper tantrum? Is that hormones or… you get the picture.

And sometimes it is just a temper tantrum.

I have two kids who handle change differently. One gets anxious and that affects pretty much everything. The other one is fairly even keeled and the main symptom is a strange preference for only chicken nuggets at every meal. Seriously. But this leads me to what I would tell my own anxious self if I could go back and talk to the younger “mom-me.”

Advice to Myself

  1. Give yourself and your kids some slack. Changes make everyone anxious, even good ones. It is okay if everyone is not dealing with it like June and Ward Cleaver. Grace and kindness go a long way.
  2.  Strange situations = familiar food. Whether there are a lot of people in our house or we are travelling, a stash of PB&J and mac’n cheese seem to go over the best. And I have learned that when my kids are going through something—recovering from being sick, struggling with friends or math or legs that are an inch longer than they were last week—“nursery food” is in order. Mac and cheese (again!), French toast and bacon for dinner, and fish sticks and tater tots are comfort foods that fill their stomachs and their souls. Hangry kids are not happy kids. The same principle applies to moms, by the way.
  3.  Sleep makes a lot of things better. Even now that my kids are older, when they are stressed out, I try to get them into their rooms early to wind down for an early bedtime. It is not out of the question for me to send my tweens to get their pajamas on at 6:30 so that they have plenty of time to decompress before bedtime.
  4.  Connection is key. I still love to read to my kids, and finding a good story to read at bedtime is another way to connect and wind down from the day. It can take our minds off of all kinds of issues and put us all in a more pleasant state for bedtime. Creating quiet time with no distractions makes us feel calmer.
  5.  Routine, routine, routine. Familiarity and the ability to follow a schedule help free up brain space to deal with whatever else is happening.
  6.  You can try again tomorrow. Some days are just hard. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and ditto for raising kids.

Everything changes. That we know for sure. How do you roll with change in your house?


  1. Great article! We’ve experienced the same things. My favorite piece of advice is connection. Connecting with a parent who provides safety and security makes every type of change easier.

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