13 Ways to Help a Toddler Cope With Change

toddler crying and birds flying

My toddler hates change!

Change is constant action. Change can affect adults as well as teens and toddlers. You could say that change is the hardest on a toddler for many reasons. The time in their life does not need to be overly stressful or scary. As an adult, you already learned how to deal with changes. Imagine being a toddler, understanding and dealing with minor changes is difficult; major is likely even more difficult. There are ways in which you can help your toddler deal with these changes.

The Change Matters

Parents face changing much easier than a toddler does. Changes as simple as moving furniture can have an impact on the little one. It is a huge dilemma for them to deal with and understand. As children grow, they learn flexibility. Flexibility and resilience are necessary skills as toddlers grow.

Time

Toddlers have no time reasoning at this age. They know what is happening now and do not understand future changes. As a parent, we need to do our best to explain to our toddler why and what is happening. Toddlers do not know how to regulate or control their emotions.

Management

Some toddlers can easily deal with changes. Whether it is starting school or attending new daycare, even those toddlers do need the assistance of a parent to work through the change happening. The attachment that a toddler feels early on is a basis for trust and reliance on the parent. The parent is the person who sets the routine that the toddler lives. Therefore, helping the child when changing the routine is mandatory for their well being. Parents also need to understand that to a toddler, everything they do is changing. Simply changing from pajamas into clothes for the day can be upsetting.

Releasing Parental Control

A toddler begins to develop control in their own lives in subtle ways. Picking out clothing to wear for a day, what cereal they want for breakfast are little changes they learn to take over. The more they advance, the more a parent will allow the child to make the choices. However, there are some changes that the toddler will not be able to control. That is where the tips to help your toddler adapt to change are important.

Be Understanding

Try to understand what the toddler is going through. The experience of change takes a lot of effort for the toddler. So it is important to speak with the child about why the change is happening. If the change is due to a move to a new home, make light and talk excitedly about it. Telling them, they will have a new room to help decorate, make new friends that they can play with is a great way to start. Even if the emotional response seems extreme, it is very real to your toddler.

Bring Up Memories

One thing that could help your child to understand is listening to instances that you have had. Tell them some stories about changes you had to go through that you were not excited about. It may have been a move to a new house when you were a child. You can explain how you made new friends that you still have.

Do Not Argue With The Toddler

Your toddler is likely to upset about the change, matching his or her resistance with your form. This would defeat the logic. A parent will come out way ahead if they use validation and understanding when speaking to the toddler.

Anticipate The Reaction

You will know about the change long before you tell the toddler about it. You can anticipate and prepare for the toddler’s reaction. This can allow you to come up with some fun or creative ways of letting the child know about the change coming.

Let Them Know You Understand

When telling the child about a change, and they become upset, getting upset with them for expressing their emotion. This is the time to sit with them and tell them that you understand their feelings. You can validate their feelings, but do not validate anything they said out of anger. Many parents attempt to reason with their toddlers. This is rather pointless as the toddler does not have reasoning abilities.

Be There

If your toddler has questions about the change, answer those questions directly. We all know that any change is difficult, large or small, young or old. If it is at all possible, keep as much the same as you can—for instance, the layout of their bedroom or playroom. Simplicity is the best. When they know that not all things are different, they will begin to understand that sometimes change is good.

Regress and Digress

Be prepared to see some difference in your toddler. They may temporarily regress to doing things they did previously but had since outgrown. Due to their emotional state about change, they may also stray when you are discussing future change. Try to remain on the topic to explain as much as you can.

Validate their Grief

If this is a big change coming, such as moving, understand they have feelings. They may not understand these feelings yet. You should tell them that you do understand how they feel, that this change is for the best and they will come to enjoy it. Keep it as light and as positive as possible. Let the toddler know that the major change makes you sad too, but you know that good things will come from it.

Involvement

Keep your toddler engaged in the plans and activities. If there is something that the toddler can assist with, such as packing toys or clothes, allow them to help. You may need to re-pack the box later, but the child will feel needed. Better yet, the child will feel included, part of the decision. The extra attention that you can give the toddler during a time of change is good. This shows the child that even if some things are going to be different, you will be there for him or her.