Managing fear of change for adults and children
Many of us fear change, especially if it is unexpected and unwelcome. Change is inevitable and a natural part of life, in fact, it is part of growth. The trouble for many of us though is that we are hard-wired to feel familiarity is safe.
Why do we fear change?
Understandably, we feel more comfortable with things that we know. Resistance to change is completely normal. We are very much creatures of habit with a need for a familiar and secure routine. Change brings uncertainty which can make us anxious about how we will cope, and it can alter and challenge our thoughts and beliefs. For many, it can feel like we have lost control.
So why change?
We know that we can't stand still and, when we accept change, we learn to become more flexible: our skill set increases, our confidence grows and we learn to be adaptable. We open up our world and our own personal growth.
How do we embrace change as children?
Change comes in many guises. Change may be expected like starting school and moving schools. It may be a planned house move or the birth of a new sibling. Change may be unexpected like the loss of a family member, the loss of a pet or maybe changes to the family unit.
Children can feel fearful and confused, worried and sad when changes arise. It is very important for them to be able to voice their thoughts, feelings and emotions and to have them validated...it is best to avoid telling them that they don't need to worry and that it will all be fine. Feelings need to be acknowledged and it is only when they have been that we can work towards managing those feelings and working towards solutions.
As adults/parents/caregivers, we must model that we are flexible and adaptable to change. I like to liken us to trees when working with both children and adults. We have strong roots that keep us grounded, strong and supported. Trees adapt to change, the wind blows, and the seasons change but trees remain strong and rooted.
Every spring there is more growth. Blossoms and leaves appear, when autumn arrives these leaves may drop off, change occurs, and the tree loses these leaves, just as we may lose (experience change with) familiar professionals, friends, and other people and things in our lives. The leaves drop to the ground and nourish the soil which in turn helps the tree to grow stronger. Fruits may appear on the trees. When we see the bare branches on the trees we can notice all the different directions they grow in. We are rather like these trees.
Discussing change with children gives them the opportunity to identify their feelings. We might be able to support the change with practical things. If change is school-related like starting a new school/new class, it can be helpful to make plans about how they will manage on their first day...who can they talk to if they need advice and support? Is there a buddy system? If so, help your child to understand how they can access this support. Role play can be beneficial. Schools usually offer play visits for those starting in reception which is a great opportunity for your child to experience the classroom and to meet new friends, and the grown-ups who will teach and support them. Please remember that belonging is extremely different to fitting in. Empower your child to be proud of who they are.
What about change in the life of the adult?
Many of us are catastrophe thinkers, headline thinkers. What if I'm rubbish at my new job and nobody likes me? What if my house move is a mistake and I don't settle in the area and need to move back? These feelings are common. Acknowledge these feelings from a distance...I had this thought that I have made a big mistake. It is a thought and not a fact. Practise breathing and relaxation techniques, grounding, vagus nerve stimulation and positive inner dialogue.
These are all things that I can help you with. I have helped many tadpoles change into frogs! ...They are just not good at leaving reviews!
To find out more please contact me.