Navigating New Places

Navigating new places is a part of life and learning strategies to do it comfortably can help your child build resiliency. We just need to remember that even as adults, it can be hard to do something for the first time or go into a new place!

For many kids, entering into a new environment can be really stressful since they may not be able to talk about how they are feeling, and may still be developing ways to keep calm. Your children will be looking to you – the adults in their lives – to help them manage the anxiety that comes with new places.

The ideas below may help your child ease into new places:

1. Help your child prepare:

– Provide information your child about the new environment. Encourage your child to practice imagining themselves in the new environment.  Talk about what to expect. Discuss how some things might go right and some things might go wrong. Listen to any fears your child might have.  Don’t try to talk your child out feeling fear or anxiety. Ask them to come up with one or two ways they can deal with the fear or anxiety. This can help them feel more prepared and confident. Remember this conversation may be only one-minute long! Short conversations where kids to most of the talking are great!

2. Keep your routine

– Carry comfort objects: Encourage your child to bring along familiar objects, such as a favorite toy, blanket, or photograph, that provide a sense of security and familiarity.

– Stick to routines: Maintaining regular routines, such as mealtimes or bedtime rituals, can help create a sense of stability, even in unfamiliar surroundings.

3. Take it one step at a time:

– Take small steps: If you can, start with shorter visits or less overwhelming situations. This slower approach allows your child to adapt at their own pace, building confidence along the way.

4.  Celebrate achievements:

  • Take a moment to celebrate your child’s efforts and successes in handling new environments. The celebrations can be simple and short: A high-five after leaving a new doctor’s office.  Celebrations can be one sentence: “I like how you didn’t get mad when the little boy grabbed your toy.” These tiny celebrations help build self-esteem and your child’s ability handle new environments.

Call the Family Help Line 1-800-932-4673: Want more support and information? Call our FREE, statewide Family Help Line (1-800-932-4673) and talk to our Parent Coaches!