7 Ways to Help Your Little Kids Through Big Changes



Many young families go through major changes like a move or job change sooner or later. Transitions have been the name of the game for our family over the past year. Just this year, we had our second child, accepted new career opportunities, and we moved from Florida to Ohio. Everyone told me that one of the most important things I could do was ensure my toddler felt cared for and supported through each of those transitions, and I definitely found that to be good advice.

Here are some ways we tackled our transitions this year to help my very sweet and sensitive toddler feel as comfortable as possible:

  1. Talk about the changes. We’re big talkers in our family. When we learned we were moving to Ohio, it became a part of our dinner conversation. We made sure to answer his questions and describe what the change would mean in toddler terms. It looked something like this:
    1. Adults: “Shep, we’re moving to Ohio. There are seasons there and you will get to jump in the leaves and play with snow, which can be really cold. Some of your friends won’t be there though, and we will all miss (names) very much. We can always call them. What do you think about that?”
    2. Toddler: “Sheppie go to Ohio. Sheppie like big leaves. Mommy and Daddy come too?”
  2. Involve childcare providers in the dialogue. Our nanny started incorporating seasons into the lessons she did with Shep, so he started to learn about snow and what the state of Ohio looked like. When he saw all the people he cared about talking about this change openly, he felt more at ease.
  3. Hold off on other changes that aren’t necessary. Both the big boy bed and potty training are major milestones we haven’t done yet. Our mantra was if it didn’t need to change, we weren’t going to mess with it. Keeping life as normal as possible in other ways helped our toddler feel secure, plus I knew regressions with potty training were a real possibility if I tried to do it in the midst of all these changes.
  4. Pick books that are about the change. We made it a fun activity to choose new library books that were about having a little brother, or tractor trucks, etc. When our toddler was able to learn more about what the transition would be like on his own terms, it helped him feel more in control.
  5. Understand there will be tough moments. I’ll never forget the night our movers had packed up all of our furniture. Our toddler was so sad that he no longer could sit on his couch and cuddle with us while he drank his milk (his favorite thing to do with mommy and daddy before bedtime). He was very sad that the couch was missing. I told him that we would see the couch again soon, but for a few hours we were going to sit on a magic carpet (aka towel) instead. This made the change more exciting for him, and he accepted the challenge. We were in hotels for that whole week, and of course, that was hard on him (and us!)
  6. Give him options. When we got to our new home, we let him pick out the bedroom that he wanted. He chose the one closest to our room, and that made him feel secure.
  7. Don’t rush the process. Even the most effective parenting strategies and amazing children will have tough days. I know we sure did. It’s normal to miss your old home, and acknowledging that for your kids shows them it’s OK. Show them pictures from their old neighborhood and friends, and then talk about what’s great about your new home, too.

Has your family gone through a major life change with little children? What helped your children handle the change?