How to help your child adapt to your temporary residence
- It’s important to say something along the lines of: “We are doing everything we can to keep you safe. To keep all of us safe. Right now we are in a place where we can all be safe. We’re going to show you around our new home now. It’s different from the home we used to live it. I can’t promise we’ll immediately like it. But we can make it our own.”
- Remind your child about animals that always carry their homes with them. Crabs and snails always have their homes with them, no matter where they are.
“Let’s pretend that you’re a little snail. And I’m also a snail! We always have our homes with us, no matter where we go. Our homes are in our hearts. But we’ll get used to this house, too. I love you. And everything will be alright, no matter where we are!”.
- Be ready to listen. The first part of support is touch (touch the child more often). The second element is the way you look at them. The third is your voice.
When a child is anxious, they may become hyperactive, anxious, moody, lethargic. These are normal reactions. Please, if the child is whiny or complains, listen to them without interruption, without excuses, giving the opportunity to rely on your patience and understanding.
- At this point, it is important that your voice is stable and confident. The child’s reactions may be different. It is important to be prepared for the fact that they will cry and say that she does not want to stay in the new house – there are no friends and toys to which they are accustomed. Support their feelings.
“I am also very sad, and I am so sorry that this happened to us. If I could, I would do everything to end the war and everything was still the same. Look what a hero you are. You helped us so much. And he was so brave. Your help is important to us now so that we can be in a safe place. For now, we will have a temporary house. And then we will return to our home. I love you very much. And we will definitely do it. “
- Ask about everything you feel you need to know. If possible, ask, “What would you like to take from our old house to this new one?”
If your child asks you if you’re going to be staying here forever, be honest and tell them that you don’t know how long you’ll need to be there. Tell them you’re going to be there until it is safe to return home.
– Will I ever see my friends again?
– I’m sure you will. And we’ll be able to phone and write to them. And I’m sure you’ll also make new friends.
- If the father of the child is staying behind, tell them something along the lines of “We’re going on a trip, just the two of us. Your dad will join us as soon as he’s able to. Or we’ll return to him. Daddy’s going to do everything he can to see you as soon as possible. Because you’re his baby and he loves you very much. He’ll feel our love every day, just as we’re going to feel his love”.
- Set the rules together.
“It is very important now that you help us in everything. You’ll need to do what we ask you to do. You will stay close, you will not run away. You will not go with anyone else. Try not to fuss. We will not always be comfortable in a new place, but we will definitely cope. Can we agree on that? (It is important to shake the child’s hand as you say this) Thank you! I knew I could rely on you. “
- Give the child reasonable tasks. For example, ask them to take care of the flowers, keep an eye on their favorite toy so as not to lose it, or regularly drink water and remind you to do so too. It’s important for the child to hear you say things like “Thank you for helping us. I know it’s difficult, but you’re doing a great job.”
- If you had certain rituals before the war, keep doing them. Read your child’s favorite bedtime story, sing your favorite songs, hug, say certain phrases that the child is used to, and so on. This will help your child regain a sense of stability in their life.
* Based on the rules of support from child family psychologist Svitlana Roiz, developed together with the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, and recommendations by psychologist Natalia Akulshina.
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