Building children's understanding

One of the challenges for young children is understanding what is going to happen in a family, what is happening now, and what has happened in the past. Drawing can be a wonderful way to visually display these transitions in families. In this video (1.5 minutes) Dr Margaret Brooks shows how the visual arts can be used to support children's thinking.

Highlighting the positives
In summary, family and social workers should try to highlight the positives of moving while also acknowledging that change is difficult. Work with the family to identify what will be different and which areas of this will cause the the most difficult for the child and parents. When working through the changes, start with the easier challenges first. Brainstorm ideas with the child about how to cope with these changes- this will help to build the child's confidence.    

Support workers should be the link that keeps families, children and their peers connected. Messages and emails can be sent to show what the children have been up to. The messages could also be shared with the absent parent.

girl in red zip up hoodie smiling

Remind the child that the whole family are experiencing the change together and that together they will be able to support each other. 
In the lead up to the relocation or deployment, keep the communication open and constant for the child. Don’t assume that children fully under stand what is happening, and many conversations need to occur to check that they do know what is happening in the short term and the long term.

Remember, misunderstandings can occur. In this personal story, Professor Pep Serow talks about how her 4-year-old daughter misunderstood the changes that were occurring in her family.

If you are not sure when to start these conversations, work with the family. As the family or social worker, you will need to establish what the child knows already, and what information the parents think is suitable to be shared. What do they think is happening? Check for that first, then you can work with that to build on the knowledge and correct any misconceptions. 

black and brown Dachshund standing in box

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Last modified: Thursday, 5 May 2022, 10:38 AM