How to help your child cope with change

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Coping with change
Most adults find big changes unsettling, but for small children any alteration to their routine can be stressful.

When it comes to life-changing events, such as moving house, having a new sibling or parents separating, the impact on toddlers and pre-schoolers can be huge - and as parents, we shouldn't underestimate this.

By putting ourselves in their shoes, we can get an idea of how each scenario might seem from our children's point of view and how we can help them.

The first step to easing little ones through change is to get down to their level, says Alexandra Maeja Raicar, psychoanalytic psychotherapist and founder of the Child-Centred Attachment Therapy (CAT) programme.

'Children may not understand expressions such as "moving house" and wonder, "How do you move a house?" By using toys or drawings, you can give them a point of reference that will help them understand.'

'With very young children, the key is to make changes seem normal rather than making a huge fuss,' says Rosemary Wells, author of Helping Children Cope With Change and Loss (Sheldon Press, £6.99). 'Talk to them as much as possible and focus on all the good things about the change.'

Change isn't something you should shelter your children from, it's unavoidable, and the last thing you want to do is make your little one afraid of the transitions he'll face in life. It's how you go about dealing with change that makes all the difference.

- Next: Starting nursery and going on holiday

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