Building confidence is a process, which takes time and patience. Some children are naturally very confident, whereas other children may need more support, especially in situations which they find challenging. For example, when faced with change.
As humans, we have evolved to love certainty, control and low-risk environments in order to survive and change can bring about feelings of anxiety or even frustration in people. Learning how to handle change at a young age will develop healthy coping methods and attitudes that will put children in a better position to embrace new situations and handle the stress of unpredictability with confidence and ease.
Adaptability is the skill of adjusting to new conditions by adopting a new approach and modifying your actions. The key to being adaptable is learning to do so in a timely and calm manner. There are many ways that you can encourage your child to be confident and adaptable when facing change and today we will discuss five of them.
When your child is faced with change, talk to them about how this makes them feel. For example, when attending a new nursery or school, or the birth of a sibling. Are they excited or are they unsettled? If they are visibly uneasy, allow them to express themselves. Then offer reassurance and comfort that the change is safe and necessary. Encouraging your child to verbalise how they feel uncomfortable will allow you to identify the cause of their discomfort and react accordingly. In addition, it will develop their communication skills.
If your child struggles to articulate their emotions, using a stuffed toy may help, as would watching a movie or reading a book where the character faces a similar change. In addition, observe how your child is responding. Does change provoke a positive or negative response? Is there a pattern to their responses? Try to improve their understanding of the situation at hand, and address any fears that may be causing their behaviour.
Providing structure is not only beneficial for parents, but reassuring for children. Consistency allows them to develop expectations and therefore a sense of safety and confidence. By introducing change into their daily routine, they will be able to draw comfort from the predictability of their schedule, whilst simultaneously being exposed to new things and becoming adaptable.
Set attainable goals with your child, so they are aware of the change and it feels manageable. For example, if you are trying to introduce new food into your child’s diet, do this at the same time each week, so that it can become an exciting event, that is anticipated and not a surprise. Of course, not all changes can be planned. However, becoming comfortable with small changes will help children be ready for larger ones.
After each time your child has responded well to change and demonstrated confident and adaptable behaviour, react positively to encourage the behaviour again. Point out the success to your child, and encourage them to celebrate. A high-five goes a long way, but if adapting to change is particularly challenging for your child, you may want to create a reward system. For example, when they hit a milestone, they receive a sticker or something that they would enjoy!
On the other hand, it is important that you adopt a flexible mindset when introducing change to your child. Children excel when they feel safe and supported, so if your child did not respond well to change, avoid taking a harsh or punitive stance. Be firm with what is acceptable behaviour, however, explain to them that it is okay to fail, and that they will do better next time. Remember that each child develops at their own pace. An adaptable mindset is not built overnight, but from practise and experimentation.
Our children follow our example and copy our behaviours. It is often said that their brains are like sponges, so in order to encourage your child to be confident, take every opportunity to demonstrate how exciting change can be! Show them that new environments create new opportunities and can be used to learn and grow! When they see your happiness and enjoyment, they will find it all the easier to try new things!
Overall, we hope that these tips help you and your child face change with a positive mindset! With patience and understanding, your child will be demonstrating their adaptability skills and confidence in no time!
At Hatching Dragons we provide bilingual education and childcare in a caring, safe and engaging environment, and always encourage children to try new things!