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10 Life-Changing Events That Affect Your Child’s Behavior and How to Handle Them

10 Life-Changing Events That Affect Your Child’s Behavior and How to Handle Them

Published by Programme B

While parents dream that life will be peaceful and uncomplicated for their little ones, a disrupting event can often introduce a great deal of stress. The good news is that you can do much to help your child cope with the challenges life brings.

Here are 10 life-changing events that can affect your child’s behavior and what you can do to help your child handle them if they happen.

1. Familial Illness or Injury

The uncertainty that illness or injury brings to any family adds unwanted anxiety to all members. Some behaviors you may notice in your child during this time include:

  • Tantrums and acting out.
  • Night terrors or disruption to sleep.
  • Fighting with siblings.

Here are some ways you can help your child cope with this situation:

  • Speak to your child honestly about your family member’s illness, what’s caused it, and the prognosis.
  • Update your children regularly on any changes to your family member’s health and what these changes mean.
  • Ensure you provide opportunities for your child to visit the sick or injured family member in the hospital. Allow the child a chance to say a final goodbye.

 

2. Starting at a New School

Nobody likes being the new kid. Going to a school with different classrooms and teachers can be stressful, even when your child is making the transition with their friends. Some behaviors you may notice include:

  • Meltdowns or tantrums.
  • Evidence of separation anxiety.
  • Lack or increase in appetite.

 

And here are a few ways you can help your child:

  • Ask your child questions to gauge where they’re at emotionally and help them prepare for the big day.
  • Help your child get a sense of what a day at school looks like by taking them on a tour of their new school.
  • Let your child pick out their school supplies and book bag, as it gives them a sense of control in the situation.

3. Moving to a New City

There’s a lot that goes into the process of selling your home, and a lot of mistakes that the uninitiated tend to make. But whether you’re moving to a city across the country or the state, the emotional difficulty for your child remains the same. Here are some behaviors you may notice during this life change:

  • Tantrums and bursts of anger.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Symptoms of depression.

These are some of the ways you can help your child weather the storm of housing changes:

  • Explain the move to your child. If needed, act out with trucks or read a book to explain critical concepts.
  • Before the move, help your child prepare for the new town, neighborhood, and house by taking them on a tour.
  • After you move, ensure you set up your child’s room first.

4. A New Baby

A new member of your family can bring a lot of joy. It can also bring feelings of confusion or jealousy to your existing child. Some behaviors you may notice include:

  • Refusing to use the potty, even though they’ve been potty trained.
  • Regression in other milestones.
  • Attention-seeking behaviors.

These are some of the ways you can help your child:

  • Before the new arrival, talk to your child as much as possible about how this baby will change their lives.
  • Once the baby arrives, allow your child to help with the baby as appropriate.
  • Ensure you spend some quality time with your child every day. Remind them of your love.

5. Drug or Alcohol Addiction

Drug and alcohol addiction doesn’t just impact the one who’s addicted. It has the potential to harm all members of the family. Children have the propensity to pick up on stressful situations and act out. You may notice behaviors like:

  • Emotional withdrawal.
  • Risk-taking behavior.
  • Symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Ways you can help your child:

  • Be direct with your messaging and ensure your child knows they didn’t cause their family member’s addiction. Addiction is a disease, and it’s not your child’s fault.
  • Ask them to share with you what they’re feeling.
  • Let your child know they’re not alone.

6. Parental Separation

Separation can be a stressful event for both parental partners and children. Prepare to notice and respond to behaviors like:

  • Symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Increased levels of irritability and non-compliance.
  • Age regression in certain behaviors.

Ways you can help your child:

  • When first letting your child know about your separation, be open and honest about the situation. Put all the facts on the table.
  • Encourage your child to grieve the situation and safely process the extent of their emotions.
  • Ensure your child knows the separation is not their fault.

7. Parental Divorce

A finalized version of separation, divorce can be a challenging, life-changing event in a child’s life. You may find that this event prompts a return of behaviors in your child. Ways you can help your child include:

  • As you finalize your divorce, tell your child they are a priority in your life. Remind them that both parents will be with them post-divorce.
  • Provide solid sleep and after-school routines for your child, and try your best to coordinate with your ex to keep things as stable as possible.
  • If your child is still displaying behaviors like social withdrawal or struggling to keep up with academic work in school, consider reaching out to a therapist for professional help.

8. Death in the Family

An awful reality of life, death causes great pain in all families. If this happens to you, some behaviors you may notice in your child are:

  • Symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Social withdrawal and academic difficulty.
  • Clingy behaviors.

Here are some ways you can help your child through this difficult time:

  • Allow your child the space to grieve and process their loss. Acknowledge their emotions and share your feelings as well.
  • Teach your child critical meditation practices, as it’s a wonderful way to help your child process their emotions. Practice mindfulness with your child to help them center on the here and now.
  • Monitor your child’s sleep, since it’s likely to be disrupted during this time.

9. Loss of a Pet

While not as significant a loss as that of a family member, losing a pet can still prove to be quite difficult for a child and all family members. This loss can prompt similar behaviors as above, like depressive symptoms and withdrawal. If you need to help your child adjust, here’s how:

  • Look at pictures of your pet and encourage them to make a book of memories.
  • Give your child the space to talk about your pet and how it died.
  • When it’s time, consider getting another pet. Involve your child in this process.

10. A Traumatic Experience

Whether a car accident, natural disaster, or scary incident, traumatic experiences, unfortunately, can happen to children in any family. Some behaviors you may notice include:

  • Separation anxiety.
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares.
  • Social withdrawal.

Ways you can help your child:

  • Let your child know they’re safe now. If the experience was a national event or disaster, limit TV coverage to avoid further stress about the situation.
  • Give extra reassurance and support during this time.
  • Encourage extra sleep for your child whenever possible.

Helping Your Child During Any Life Event

By helping your child through any of these life-changing events, you’ll teach them the skills to cope with the challenges life often presents. Soon, those stresses will become a thing of the past!

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

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