5 great ways to help children adapt to change

African American woman with three child prepare for Easter.

By Sid Madge, Meee

I’m a great believer in instant change, little ‘micro-moments’ of learning or adaptation that allow us to actively take charge of our situation and emotions in the moment, reset and bring more of our best to help ourselves and others. These micro-shifts are particularly useful for children who can find change especially challenging. Each micro-moment intervention is designed to be actionable in a minute and I’ve written three books on these micro-moments for life, work and family.

Here are five simple ways to cope with change and build resilience, in just a few minutes a day.

1. The Natural Health Service

A great way to reduce stress levels in children and adults is to get into nature. Pay attention to the sounds and smells and simply enjoy some quiet time.

When children are stressed or struggling with change this type of activity can be a great way to encourage discussion. Sometimes it can be hard to talk face-to-face – it feels too direct. But talking shoulder-to-shoulder while they are doing something else like walking in nature often makes it easier to open-up and share what they are feeling.

2. Celebrate Failure

Change is by definition a move from the comfortable to the uncomfortable. That also includes failure. Everyone failed their way to riding a bike: there is always failure first, a drop of anxiety, questionable balance and a few bumps and bruises along the way.

Next time you need to encourage children to embrace change remind them of the need for failure. As Elizabeth Spiegel, once said: “losing is something you do, not something you are”. Failure is not something to be avoided but welcomed with open arms. Failure means progress. There will be days that they stuff up. Times when they feel they are getting worse rather than better. That’s OK. Just encourage them to keep going. And go easy on the expectations. No one goes from can’t ride a bike to Olympic Gold medallist in BMX in a fortnight! Always encourage children to stop expecting immediate perfection and focus instead on consistent effort. This attitude will always help children to unlock the valuable assets that failure provides because it helps them to improve.

3. Take Care of the Basics 

Taking care of the basics means eating healthy food, drinking plenty of water and moving physically. These pillars are important all the time for all of us but especially so during change.

Encourage children to make healthier choices around what they eat. A really easy swap that can make a huge difference is to swap fizzy drinks for water. Fresh fruit instead of sweets or crisps. Exercise also results in almost immediate improvements to mood and energy levels. Moderate exercise –⁠ even just five or ten minutes of brisk walking –⁠ can have a significant positive effect and help us deal with change. This is also true for children. One study even found that following a ten-minute walk, the walker still felt significantly better two hours later.

4. Social Media Detox

There are now countless studies into the negative impact of social media and too much screen time prior to bed.

Encourage children to get rid of social media – even for a few hours a night before they plan to go to sleep. Nothing helpful will ever come from checking Facebook, YouTube or TikTok before bed. It is also better for their phone to charge in another room. The light and notifications, even if on silent interrupt sleep patterns.

5. Positive Habits

We are often really great at creating negative habits, but not positive one. When faced with change, encourage children to stop for a moment and consider what makes them happy. Is it meeting up with friends, listening to really loud music or singing at the top of their voice in their bedroom? Identify what it is and encourage them to do it more.

It’s obvious, but too many of us forget this simple advice. Identifying and hanging on to positive habits, especially during times of change can help us all to feel happier and safer during the transition.

One positive habit that punches way above its weight in terms of impact is the art of appreciation. Encourage children to give this a try for at least a week. While brushing their teeth in the morning (or evening) instead of listening to music on their phone, take a few minutes to think about three things that they are most grateful for in their life. Enjoy those things in the midst of change.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sid Madge is a transformation and change specialist and founder of Meee. Meee draws on the best creativity and thinking from the worlds of branding, psychology, neuroscience, education and sociology, to help people embrace change and achieve extraordinary lives.

From pupils to CEOs, we’ve helped thousands find their magic to transform themselves, their communities and their organisations. From leaders of PLCs and SMEs to parents, teachers, students, carers, the unemployed and prison inmates we help people excel.

Sid Madge is also author of the ‘Meee in Minute’ series of books which each offer 60 ways to change your life, work-, or family-life in 60 seconds.

Web: www.meee.global

Web: www.meeebooks.com

Twitter twitter.com/Meee_HQ
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YouTube https://youtu.be/fISupZWZMQc 
TEDx https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR3Cyjs62c8

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