Last fall, my husband accepted a job that required a major move for our family. After an entire school year of planning and anticipating, our family relocated from Illinois to our new home in Virginia this summer. It’s a major change. Our kids will enter middle school this fall. They especially have struggled with conflicting feelings about saying goodbye to people and places they love and anticipating new friendships and adventures to come. Sometimes anger or sadness rules the day; other days, we sense more optimism.
The truth is, not everyone is eager to invite and embrace change. Going to a new school, moving to a new town, or even starting a new hobby can be daunting. Here are some tips we’ve found helpful to instill peace and confidence when walking with your kids into a new experience.
1. Acknowledge Feelings
Walking into new situations can produce anxiety or fear. It’s okay to acknowledge that. A child entering a new school has legitimate reasons to wonder about classes, friends, or fitting in. When we exhibit empathy for our kids’ negative emotions, we provide a compassionate place for them to sort through tough challenges. If your child is too young or has difficulty articulating feelings accurately, check out the iMom Feel Wheel Printable or Dr. Josh and Christi Straub’s What Am I Feeling? book. Both provide valuable practice to help kids get comfortable with identifying their emotions.
2. Remember Strengths
One way to embrace new experiences is to remember successful new experiences from the past. Remember what it felt like to take the school bus for the first time? How hard it was the first time you tried to wrap your mind around fractions? How uncertain you felt that first day of basketball practice with a new team? Encourage your kids to recall their past triumphs. It can be a big morale boost for your children to realize they have used their skills and strengths to overcome challenges in the past, and that they can use those same character qualities to overcome fresh hurdles.
3. New Environment, New You
New situations invite new ways of being. Has your child ever struggled to plug in to that club or that activity or that table in the lunchroom? A new start just may be the time to turn over a new leaf. The last time we moved to a new town, I immediately accepted a party invitation from a friendly neighbor. My husband was shocked that I would discard my shyness to engage with a group of strangers. But I had decided I didn’t want to be lonely and making friends required meeting new people. Forcing ourselves out of our comfort zones can be incredibly difficult. But sometimes a change in environment is just the boost that encourages us to take the leap we’ve been wanting.
4. Count Your Blessings
Practicing gratitude can shift a mindset. Are your children attending a new school this year? What a blessing that God has provided a school full of teachers ready to teach and guide them! Are they thinking of joining a new club or sport? What an opportunity to learn a new skill and make new friends and connections! Gratitude helps us shift our points of view to appreciate our opportunities and consistently combats anxiety, bitterness, self-pity, self-absorption, and depression. Share with your kids something you are grateful for each day and invite them to do the same. It’s a great way to consistently view the glass as half full.
Anticipate positive things to come. We tend to find what we are looking for. Do you expect your new circumstance to bring disappointment? If you do, it probably will. Do you make it a point to look for the positive in a situation? Then you’ll likely find good things, and some pleasant surprises besides. A new town opens us up to new geographies, activities, people, and culture. New hobbies help us develop new skills and perhaps find new passions to pursue. We never know if we don’t try. To embrace change is to invite new kinds of joy and beauty into our lives.
When was the last time you experienced a change for the better?