A father and son talking in a lounge seated

A guide for parents and carers Transitions and times of change

Change is a normal part of life, but it can feel difficult for children and young people to cope with. We have information and practical tips to help you support your child during a time of transition or change.

Mother and daughter having a serious talk on the sofa

Young people go through all kinds of changes as they grow up. These include moving into a new class, going to secondary school and moving to a new area.

Lots of children and young people will also experience family changes such as divorce or separation, having a new step-parent or sibling, or going through bereavement.

If your child is struggling to cope with a change, big or small, have a look at the practical tips we've got on this page. These can help you to feel more confident about supporting them. 

Why do children and young people find some changes difficult?

Some changes can be exciting. But others can be stressful, worrying and upsetting.

Change can be more difficult when a young person:

  • does not want it to happen
  • does not feel ready for it
  • feels worried about what is happening next, because it is new or unknown
  • needs time to let go of something that has ended
  • feels like what is happening to them is out of their control

A child or young person may also find change more difficult if they are already struggling with other things, such as anxiety, low-mood, problems at school or self-esteem issues.

A father and son sitting together outside in nature

Changes since the Covid-19 pandemic

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have all experienced a lot of change. Children and young people had to get used to staying and learning at home. Then they had to adjust to coming out of lockdowns and being back at school. If they have gone through a bereavement or have a vulnerable family member, life might feel very different to how it was before. This will take time to process and understand.

Your child's experiences of the pandemic might have left them feeling more uncertain, anxious, low or angry. They may also be feeling less settled at school. Or, their behaviour at home might be more challenging.

If your child is struggling with the amount of change they've gone through since Covid, it can help to:

  • Let them know it's okay to go at their own pace.

    After so much change and disruption, we will all need different amounts of time to work things out. Reassure your child that they don’t have to do all the same things as other people, or compare themselves to others.

  • Keep regular routines going as much as you can.

    This includes regular times for going to bed, waking up, eating meals, spending time as a family and doing hobbies. Having routines like this can help young people to feel more safe and secure.

  • Spend quality time together doing things they enjoy.

    This shows you're there for them and can help them feel less alone. It could include going for a walk, enjoying a favourite film, cooking, drawing or spending time in nature. If they'd rather do these things alone, encourage them to find the things that help them. They can use our young person's guide to self-care to get started.

Signs your child may be struggling with change

Play Video: Act on Warning Signs | YoungMinds #Take20 Act on Warning Signs | YoungMinds #Take20

You know your child better than anybody else. Trust your instincts as a parent or carer if you notice changes in your child's behaviour that feel worrying. Remember that it’s important to act on warning signs if you do start to feel concerned.

Catherine, a volunteer on our Parents Helpline, shares her tips:

  • look out for a change in things like sleeping or eating habits
  • communicate with your child if you’ve seen these signs
  • keep going, even if it feels like you’re not getting through to them
  • contact your GP or school about the warning signs if things don’t improve

Keeping communication open

  • If you do see signs that are worrying you, it’s really important to try to talk to your child. Keep communicating with them in any way you can. This could be hugging, listening to them or texting. Just focus on keeping the line of communication open.

    You can find more tips on talking to your child in our guide for parents.

What to do if your child is finding change difficult

1. Be part of the solution

As a parent, be part of the solution. There are a number of things you can do to support your child, whether that be helping them plan, problem-solve or develop a sense of hope for the future.

Jo, our Head of Parent Services, gives her top tips.

Jo's tips

  • get interested in what your child is doing
  • open up conversations about what they’re involved in - whether it's music, current affairs or social media, get them to teach you about their interests
  • keep an eye on pressure points

2. Be your child's anchor

If your child is experiencing problems or going through significant change, it’s important that you can be an anchor for them.

Jo, our Head of Parent Services, gives her top tips.

Jo's tips

  • being an anchor will be reassuring if things are changing
  • maintain hobbies, favourite family activities and routines to create a safety net when your child is struggling
  • give them a sense of hope by encouraging them

Looking after yourself as a parent

It’s so important that you look after yourself so that you can look after your child.

Catherine’s tips:

  • recognise when you’re finding things hard
  • talk to family and friends about how things are
  • don’t blame yourself - it is not your fault
  • recharge your batteries and relax
Don’t blame yourself, it’s so easy to do but it’s not your fault. As a parent you can feel guilty all the time, but what is happening is happening and what’s really important is that you take care of yourself.

More tips to help you support your child with change

For more advice on helping your child during a time of change, download our ten tips for parents.

Ten ways for parents to help children cope with change

You might also find helpful...

Useful helplines and websites

While we take care to ensure that the organisations we signpost to provide high quality information and advice, we cannot take responsibility for any specific pieces of advice they may offer. We encourage parents and carers to always explore the website of a linked service or organisation to understand who they are and what support they offer before engaging with them.

  • YoungMinds Parents Helpline

    We support parents and carers who are concerned about their child or young person's mental health. Our Parents Helpline provides detailed advice and information, emotional support and signposting.

    You can contact us by phone, webchat or email.

    You can speak to us over webchat between 9.30am and 4pm from Monday-Friday. When our webchat service is closed, you can email us using the form on our Parents Helpline page.

    Opening times:
    9.30am-4pm, Monday-Friday
  • Parenting Mental Health

    Digital support community and charity offering information, peer support, facilitated listening circles, mentoring and courses for parents of children with mental health difficulties.

    Founder Suzanne Alderson’s book Never Let Go - How to Parent Your Child Through Mental Illness (Penguin, 2020) outlines how she supported her daughter to recovery after she became depressed and suicidal.

  • Family Line

    Provides information and support around family issues, as well as longer-term help through Befrienders and Counsellors.

    Opening times:
    9am - 9pm, Monday - Friday
  • Youth Access

    Provides information about local counselling and advice services for young people aged 11-25.

    Put in your location and what you need help with into their 'Find help' search, and see what services are available in your area.

  • Hub of Hope

    A national database of mental health charities and organisations across Britain that offer mental health advice, including for family members.

  • Bayo

    Bayo has a list of organisations that work specifically with Black young people, including places where Black young people can get mental health support in their local community.

Whether you love the page or think something is missing, we appreciate your feedback. It all helps us to support more young people with their mental health.

Please be aware that this form isn’t a mental health support service. If your child is in crisis right now and you want to talk to someone urgently, find out who to contact on our urgent help page.

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Please note:

This form is not a mental health support service. We cannot reply to this. If you or your child are at immediate risk of harm, call 999 and ask for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E. If you are worried about your child’s mental health, call our Parents Helpline on 0808 802 5544, Mon-Fri, 9:30am – 4pm. If you are struggling with your own mental health, call Samaritans on 116 123.

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