Tips to Help Kids Cope & Adjust

When Change Happens

Teachers and leaders are very important people in the lives of children, especially ones involved in their spiritual development. When there is a staff change, a range of reactions are often experienced. Children and parents often feel a sense of loss because they may have bonded or become close with the leader. Parents are understandably concerned about their children and these bonds and may have worries around how their child will react to change.

Transitions are hard for everyone but can be especially difficult for children who are unsure why the transition is happening or aren’t able to fully understand it. Here are a few ways parents and families can help support children through a time of transition:

• Remember to be age appropriate. A kindergartener is going to process this much differently than a fifth grader. Terminology matters. Try to use words and phrases they will understand. Older kids may have more questions about how they will be impacted by the job loss. It might take a while for their questions to come out, but reassure them that their questions are welcome at any time.

• Find out how your child is feeling: “How are you feeling about Ms. Susanne leaving?” “Will you miss her?” “What will you miss?” While exploring these feelings, take care not to probe or assume that your child is upset or not based on their initial reactions.

• It’s ok to say “I don’t know” if your a child asks a question like “why did this happen?” An “I’m not sure…what do you want to know?” response may help you get to a question you can answer. If not, simply say: “Honey, since this question is important to you, let me see what I can do to find out.” 

• Reassure your child that the leaders, teachers, and friends at church are still there to support and nurture them. Talk about what will be the same (i.e. friends and other teachers who continue to be with your child during worship, Sunday School, summer programming, and more).

• Try to minimize other changes in your child’s life for a while: Keep the routines, rituals, and places your child associates with church consistent for a period of time to help them ease into the changes.

• Acknowledge and accept the sadness or anger children may feel. Let your child know your feelings but focus on the positive. “I’m sad Ms. Susanne isn’t going to be at Asbury anymore, but I’m excited about all the fun things planned for this summer and the great time you are going to have!”

While it’s important to respect the child’s feeling of loss, it’s equally important to note that children are still immersed in the program, are excited to see their friends, and engage with other volunteers and leaders.