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Children's and parenting health centre

Helping children cope with change

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Children love routines and rituals. They like knowing what to do, where to go and what to expect. But things in life change: it could be a house move or going to a new school. It could be a change in living arrangements; perhaps a parent's new partner is moving in.

Although you may be looking forward to a fresh start with someone new or moving to a bigger house in a great area, it may be a scary prospect for your child. You can't avoid change but you can help your child deal with it.

Prepare them in advance

If it's a house move, involve them in the process. If they are old enough, take them to viewings and ask their opinion of potential new homes. Once you have decided on a place, let them have a look around and talk about what colour they might like their bedroom painted or what new duvet cover they'd like. Give them some choices so they feel as though they have a degree of control and their opinion matters.

If it's a new school, take them on a visit beforehand to look around. Schools usually let new pupils spend a morning or so at the school before they actually start, being introduced to the children and meeting their new teacher. If they are starting a new school after a school holiday it may be wise to join some local play schemes to mix with children who may also go there so there'll be some familiar faces on the first day.

It's important to discuss with a child if a new partner should move into the family home before it happens. A lot depends on how old the child is, but if a child knows that they are being consulted first and believe that their feelings are important to you, they are more likely to adapt to the change and not see it as a fait accompli. Reassure your child that they will always come first.

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