I’m not talking about the kind of change you keep in your pocket. I’m talking about alteration of plans, adjustment to new directions and dealing with unexpected shifts in routines. I’m talking about when things just don’t go the way you want them to go. Some of us thrive on change and are inspired and stimulated by variations in routine. Others are devastated by change and are thrown so far off course that they can’t face the new path without significant assistance.
I happen to love change and find comfort and intrigue in knowing that new ideas, events or people can pop into my world at any time. Perhaps that is why I find working with children so enchanting. I never know what will come out of their mouths or what action they may perform or what emotion may be expressed during our time together. Perhaps that is also why I feel such tremendous compassion for kids when they do NOT like or accept change with ease or pleasure. These kids find change so disturbing that it disrupts their entire day and thus the entire day of family, teachers, and friends as well.
Last week Meghan and I used a wonderful power point presentation with our second grade group. “A Kids Guide to Understanding and Handling Change” was developed by Jill Kuzma and she offers it to people in downloadable form on her website here. Our kids were captivated by the presentation and were able to articulate the changes that are unexpected and unwelcome in their own lives, how these changes make them feel, and strategies they use to help themselves. This presentation was right on target for our kids. They were on topic, sharing, and listening to each other. I got the sense that they felt understood and accepted in this challenge and watched their anxiety dissipate as we talked.
John’s teacher talked to us to today as we prepared for group. She alerted us to the fact that John was very upset we hadn’t made the movie we talked about 2 weeks ago. His distress was coloring his days and he couldn’t let it go. We were able to talk about this unexpected and unwelcome “change” and why it is upsetting, what level of problem it is, what John could do to handle the situation better. We asked the kids if they were expecting to make a movie today and when we told them it would NOT happen today, their faces dropped. We encouraged question asking so they could gain more information about “why” (our camera was broken) and “when” we can film (the first Tuesday after vacation). After supporting them in their disappointment and talking about future plans, it was striking how they were able to breath easy and move on.
Please check out Jill Kuzma’s web site and her many helpful ideas for kids with social challenges. Managing the changes in our lives is critical to happiness and success and Jill brings us a step closer to tolerating that fact of life. Thank you Jill!
Submitted by Jill Perry MHA M.S. OTR/L
Image by: Conal Gallagher