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Managing 'Big' Change
Episode 14621st March 2024 • How Not to Screw Up Your Kids • Dr Maryhan
00:00:00 00:18:59

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Big change can feel super scary. What we might see as routine our children might feel is their biggest challenge yet! How we prepare them is crucial - remember we're raising resilient adults.

Here are the highlights:

(01:08) The balanced see-saw

(3:44) Acknowledge your child’s lens

(6:12) Be prepared

(9:31) Talk about it sooner rather than later

(12:40) Actively listen to your child

(15:21) Build your child’s toolkit and practice

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Hello, and welcome to the how not to screw up your kids podcast. So pour yourself a cuppa, find a comfy seat and enjoy the conversation. This is episode 146. And today's episode managing big change, I'm talking about ways that we can prepare and support our children when there's a change of foot. Now whether that's a house move, a school move, we're moving overseas, we're expecting another child, we're separating our partner anything which is going to disrupt your child's current routine. Now I was tempted when I was sort of describing that to sort of add the word significantly disrupt, but actually, the reality is significant, is very subjective and very relative to your child's lens on their world. So let me explain. I talk a lot about this idea of the seesaw. So when our child is in a situation that they feel capable and competent, there seesaw is a natural balance, if you imagine in it, the whole riding Cecil's when we were little and one person would sit on one side, and you'd have someone on the other. And if you had someone who was older and heavier than obviously, and someone much lighter on the other side, you made it really difficult for the seesaw to balance. So if we think of the seesaw as a way of, I guess, us being able to think about how children view the world, when children view the world and a situation that they find themselves in where they feel capable and competent, their seesaw is naturally balanced. On the one side, what they perceive are the demands that that situation places on them, they perceive those demands are equally give or take a bit matched by the perceived resources, they have to deal with it. That's a lovely capable seesaw what happens when our children find themselves in a situation that they feel is beyond them too much, significantly impacting them super disruptive, majorly out of their comfort zone, the seesaw tips, and that what you find is on one side, what they perceive are the demands being placed on them by that situation. Those demands far outweigh any perceived resources, they have to cope with it. And that's where we get this imbalance seesaw. So when we think about big change, it's all going to be relative to your child. So for example, a child, one child may see a house move as supremely significantly disruptive, another child may see a year group move, moving from year two to year three, moving from nursery to to year, or whatever that might be it's all relative to your child, it may well be moving friendship groups might have a significant impact. So when we're talking about big change, a lot of us might typically think, which is in lots of ways when I was planning out this episode, I was really thinking about it from that perspective of goodness me, how can we help a child who's, you know, having something huge and massively disruptive to their routine. And in lots of ways, I'm addressing that in this episode, I would just also add that it doesn't need to be huge, and it doesn't need to be significant in our eyes as adults looking with our lens into it for it to be significant and huge for our children. So I think that that's a really important aspect that we're looking at. And I'm going to share with you my top five tips. So here goes, the first one is we need to acknowledge our child's lens, so very much around the seesaw. In other words, we need to ensure that everything that we say, and everything that we do around this change, and around this perceived significance and how big it is for our children is very much focused from the way that they view it from their likely experience. So what I would say is, if you typically have if you have a child who typically becomes overwhelmed when the smallest of things, the smallest from our perspective of things change, expect that they are likely to respond to big change with some aspect of difficulty. So maybe your child loves a routine a lot and becomes fazed when even the slightest thing changes, whether that they're seated at a different place on the table at home, whether it's about someone else picking them up or something changes in your plans. Now this is not I'm not saying this from the perspective of every that's predictive is not always necessarily predictive. And children have this uncanny way of massively surprising us when we think that something's going to really disrupt


Push them and push them out of their comfort show comfort zone, or they're going to find it really difficult. And actually, they don't have they sweep through it really easily. But preparation is so much better than just not planning. And we'll talk about pressure preparation in a minute. But we I want us to really acknowledge that lens that our child is likely to view that situation, it may seem just a walk in the park for us, but it may not be for them. No, it's not about being defeatist, or even creating an issue which might not be there. It's simply about being prepared. And always framing the way that we approach a conversation, which we'll talk about or the way that we put plans into place, which we'll talk about, but always keeping that lens in mind and reminding ourselves, I may view this in this way. And therefore I'm looking at it from a balanced seesaw. But my child may be looking at it from a very different perspectives. And that's how he's acknowledging that child's lens in the same way as acknowledging other people's experiences when we're from an adult perspective and interaction with our friends and our work colleagues and our partner. So that's the first one is we want to acknowledge our child's lens. The second thing we want to do is be prepared to spend some time thinking through where your child might struggle, and have conversations with everyone involved in your child's life, about the changes coming, and how you might all be able to help. And the idea about this really is very much that it helps create a bit of a sounding board because where others who know our child might then be able to pick up on things that we haven't even considered. So for example, it let's say the house move as an example. So we might be so focused on the practicalities of moving. And so our focus becomes very much from our child's perspective and their child's lens very much about their room, for example. And so we're really focused on what okay, we need to make sure that they've got familiar things in it. But we might not necessarily pick up other aspects that we need to have conversations with our children about that someone else might pick up on that might be about a change in the routine getting to school, or the change in the time that they have to wake up, or maybe the proximity of their room to yours will how big or small the houses the distance from their bedroom, to where the sort of living spaces, these things may have absolutely no bearing for some children. But for others, it makes a big difference. And so when you've got a sounding board, when you're having that those conversations with people who are involved in your child's life, then it can be really helpful because they just come up with ideas, they think through things that you may not have even kind of gone to so that it can be really helpful in that being being prepared. But if nothing else, it's that opportunity to stand back from the situation say, Okay, let's just look at this for a moment, what might be some of the challenges that my child might see that this situation is going to present to them. By being prepared, we can then look at things that we might need to put in place, sometimes there is no preparation, sometimes maybe we have a job move, and suddenly the whole family is is moving either within our country or to a separate country, maybe suddenly, something happens and our partner is going to have to start working away from home a significant amount of time, and therefore they're not there to help, suddenly, something might happen. And actually, we become unwell. And we have to go into hospital. Some things we can't necessarily prepare for in the same way, but where we can be prepared and those having those conversations are really helpful. And sometimes when these things happen, that are just instantaneous, we almost have to sort of do the preparation after the effect. But in other words, we just need to be looking specifically about how we can do that. So number one is acknowledging and really trying to see things through our children's lens. The second is about being prepared, I'm super excited to announce that tickets are now live for my inaugural it takes a village to raise a resilient adult conference. This is an in person event, and I cannot wait to meet so many of you there. This conference is for you. If you are a parent who wants to raise a resilient adult, if you're a teacher and educator and nanny, a therapist, an aunt, an uncle or a grandparent, or anyone who's invested in raising the next generation of resilient adults, head over to the website link in the show notes where you can buy your tickets. Now. The third is talk about it sooner, rather than later. And I see this so often is that the change becomes ignored because we sort of think, not really, I'm not quite sure that they're going to cope or maybe we'll leave it to the last minute and we'll spring it on them because then they won't have too much time to ruminate and go over it and ask things and we avoid this long protracted worry is not really going to help our children become more resilient in the long term. It is much


better to give our children as much information as is possible agent stage appropriate, of course, but to do that as soon as possible so that they can, with our help begin to build their toolkit, and really for the specifics of the issues maybe to present themselves, because there may be some things that your child will say that you haven't, it hasn't even occurred to you that that might happen or that your child might be worried about. So it really is where we have got time where we have full warning, it is really helpful to talk to our children, if we don't have time, if we don't have forewarning, and it just suddenly springs on us, then we still need to have that conversation. And having that conversation from an acknowledgement basis of this has happened, I understand that that might create might feel really super scary, or we don't quite know. But this is this is what we do know. And there's talking about it as well. It's also talking about it when you don't necessarily always have all of the information. Sometimes we avoid having those confident those conversations, because we're thinking, I don't really know all of the ins and outs. And so I don't want to worry them, or I don't think it's appropriate to talk to them until I've got all of the information. And sometimes this happens where we've got more challenging situations, it's certainly one of the common things that tends to happen when there's a separation, for example, is that we tend to hold off because we don't have all of the information and we don't kind of need to what feel like we don't need to worry our children. But talking is a really crucial thing. And I tell you why it is so crucial is that children will pick up that something is different, they might not know what the big change is going to be. But they can pick up on that in our behaviour, regardless of whether we think we're doing a great job, and we're not, we're not talking about it in front of the children, they don't really know, they pick up on it. And what will happen is because there'll be changes in your behaviour, changes in tone, mannerisms, pressures, emotions, all of those sorts of things. If you don't communicate with your children, if you don't explain to them what is happening, Agent stage appropriate, what will happen is your children will create their own story. And particularly if it is something that is a big change that is likely to impact them, from their perception of something that is negative, they could be creating all sorts of stories that will actually be more damaging than just going in and being really honest. So it's really important that we talk about it sooner, rather than later. So we're acknowledging through our child's lens, we're being prepared, we're talking about it sooner rather than later. Number four is we need to actively listen, we hear this description a lot, but actively listening, the best way I can describe actively listening is you're basically listening without formulating an answer. But listening in such a way that if you had to, like almost paraphrase back to your child, what you think they said, what you think you've understood by what they've said, you'd be able to give it a good go. That's proper active listening. And the reality is so often as parents, we're busy juggling multiple things is that we don't, we don't really become fully present in that moment. So that's the first challenge is stopping what we're doing and actually giving them that attention and not letting our mind wander, but also listening with that view of a want to be able to report back to my child reframe back to them what I think I've heard. So what I think you're saying to me is x and y that actively listening, and when I talk about actively listening, I want you to focus not just on the words that come out of their mouth, but their body language, too. What's the tone of their voice telling you? How are they holding themselves is there a little wobble in their voice? All of these things come together. So if you've got this incongruence and you know, Mum, Dad, I'm fine, I'm fine. But their language in all other aspects is absolutely screaming, I'm not I'm petrified, I'm scared. I'm worried I'm nervous. That's what I'm hearing you telling me that you're fine. But I can just see in the way that you've been beat the way that you're sitting and talking to me that there seems to be real worry and nervousness there and, and it's okay to feel nervous. That's the sort of conversations that we want to be having. And that's the way that we want to really actively listen because that's going to give us the telltale signs of really going back to that first one of that lens that which our child is is looking at things through we may be thinking that actually they really are okay. They keep telling us that we're okay. They're getting frustrated with us whenever we try to have that conversation. But when we're trying to actively listening to listen to them, every aspect of their behaviour is screaming, this is really tricky for me, then we can have that sort of slightly empathetic approach of I'm noticing you're saying nice things, but what I'm seeing is something really deep


First, and I want you to know that it's okay to feel nervous, it's fine to be worried big change can seem really scary. And we're here to help and we want to talk about it, we want to support you, we want to see how we can work together to make this feel less overwhelming. So it's really actively listening and looking out for those telltale signs. So that's number four. Number five, of course, is going to be all about building their toolkit. And practising it's not building a toolkit is great. But if we don't practice it, we don't encourage our children to practice when they are not experiencing big overwhelm, or big changes, they are never ever going to use it in those big moments. And that's a really crucial thing quite often as parents will encourage our children to take deep breaths, or breathing exercises or things to do the glitter jar or being aware of their internal chatter, we do a lot of this in the moment, we're great at trying to kind of prompt those tools for our children. But if they've never used them, when they're in that they're normal, calm, rest and restore state, they don't know how to use it in that in the middle of that moment when things are overwhelming, because they're stuck in that amygdala, that emotional part of their brain, which doesn't communicate in that moment, to the logical, rational problem solving part of our brain at the front. So it's really important that when we're building that toolkit that we encourage our children to practice and within the toolkit, we want to start with familiar, already familiar things that were able to kind of put into their toolkit. So obviously, we've got tools for managing stress and anxiety and all those big things. But we're also going to look at that when we're having the big change. So if we're having a house move, we might want to start off focusing in about the actual physical things that they can put into their new bedroom, whether that's familiar pictures, toys, bedspread, if we're moving school, then we might be talking about very specific things that we want that help them take with them to school, which make them feel more with which feel more familiar. So the toolkit is not just the physical tools that help manage the emotions, but it's the tools that we can use that help our children scaffold that big change and make some of that have some of that familiarity with them, that helps minimise that big, scary new situation. So it's, it's curating that toolkit to the situation. So obviously, techniques and strategies that help them around that managing the feelings in their body, the thoughts in their brain, but also easing that transition. So let me just quickly recap those five. So the first is acknowledging through our child's lens, the second is being prepared, the third is talking about it sooner rather than later. Let's not avoid those conversations. The fourth is actively listening. And number five is building that toolkit. Now, my give this week is going to be those five and a checklist because they're always really helpful to have a bit of space to reflect. But always keep in mind that we're looking at this from the lens of our children and that seesaw. So all you need to do if you'd like to download the resource is to head over to my free resource library, Dr. Mary forward slash library where you'll find the link to download the resource. All you need to do is pop in your email address, and you'll get instant access not only to this week's resource, but all the other free resources across all my podcast episodes, as ever. If you have enjoyed this episode, I would love it. If you could follow rate and review this podcast so that others can find this and we can spread the love. So until next time,





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