Blogger | Teacher
Penny for your thoughts? Or maybe a nickel if they’re extra interesting. We all have a little spare change lying around somewhere, waiting to be used at a vending machine or laundromat. But today, we’re not talking about that kind of change – we’re going to talk about life’s pocket of change, the change is given to us whether we ask for it or not. And while that change can be scary sometimes, it’s important that we understand the value of change and teach our kids to appreciate it, not be afraid of it.
We all know that the principle motto of life – especially life with children – is “consistency is key.” Children thrive on consistency. When learning new behaviors, research stresses that it can take up to two months for a child to change or learn a behavior. So, it’s super important for children to have regulated schedules and consistent responses to their behaviors. And that all makes perfect sense – but what about when something unexpected happens? If we learn early on that it’s important that everything remains relatively the same, how do we learn to handle change?
Change is inevitable, no matter how hard you might try to avoid it. But, here’s the thing: you don’t need to avoid it. You don’t need to spend your life afraid something is going to go wrong and mess up the plan. There is much value in change – it can lead us on journeys we never expected, take us to places we never considered, pull us to jobs we would never have thought about.
But how do we learn to handle the underlying fear of change? First, it’s important to note that, as humans, we create a conundrum in our own lives: we are both simultaneously terrified of change and scared of nothing ever-changing, of leading stagnant lives and becoming bored. And while I wish there was a simple answer for coming to terms with that dichotomy, unfortunately, there isn’t (if you’ve found one, feel free to let me know).
What we do know, however, is that change is inevitable. Change is everywhere all at once, whether it’s something as small as finding out your coffee brand is sold out and you have to try a new type or something as major as getting a new job across the ocean and uprooting your whole family to move. So, there’s no reason to be afraid of it – fear usually exists in the unknown, and the idea of change itself isn’t necessarily unknown. It’s a given.
The next big step is learning to be okay with it. Finding the value in change is extremely difficult when you’re sitting in the middle of the storm – all you can think about is everything that’s different, rather than all the good things that are going to happen. As someone who is an inflexible, anxious perfectionist, I thrive on consistency and shy away from what I can’t control. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to appreciate the unexpected things that were given to me by change.
For example, when I first moved from my home in Alabama – where I’d grown up – to Virginia, I was terrified and sad. I didn’t know how to move my life 12 hours away and learn to be okay with that. And yet, after living here for a year, I can’t imagine being anywhere else. The place I thought I’d hate has become my home, one where I’ve met amazing people and done things I never thought about trying (like walking 18 miles around DC in a day – my feet were not happy, but I definitely was).
Lastly, even if we won’t admit it, we all know that change is exciting. We recognize that the value in change lies in the possibilities, the unknown “next.” We’re a little scared of it, but we all like the idea that it could be something amazing. And that feeling is the one we should embrace. While it’s impossible to wipe the fear and doubt away entirely, by concentrating on the excitement, we can make the whole experience all the more worthwhile.
It’s important that this feeling of excitement is what we show to our children. While we should take the time to talk to them about the changes in their life – whether they’re family-wide changes or personal – and recognize with them that the fear they might experiences is understandable and valid, it’s also important that we emphasize the exciting things that come next. The earlier that children learn to be excited about change, the less scary it will feel later on.
Find something in the change, something concrete that they can hold on to, and encourage your children to concentrate on that exciting new adventure. If you’re moving, find pictures online showcasing some cool elements of your new home, like photos of the beach or local parks and museums. Having something concrete to look forward to can help alleviate some of the fear and help them embrace the change.
Change is scary. But it’s also exciting. And the value of change lies in the unknown “next” that creates a perfect mixture of those two feelings.
No matter what you do in this life, make sure you walk around with a little loose change in your pocket. You never know what you’ll find.
About Draven Jackson
Draven is an avid writer and reader who enjoys sharing her opinions on movies, books, and music with the rest of the world. She will soon be working as a teacher in Japan and hopes to use her experience to connect with other teachers and students around the globe. Draven spends most of her time at home with her family, her dogs, and her ferret.
To see more, view all posts by Draven Jackson here.