Transitions- Part II

In the first article, I focused on family moves, but there are other transitions that give people difficulty. This piece is designed to deal with children’s transitions and how parents can help ease them.

Think back to that first day in the new job. People were outwardly friendly and welcoming, but everyone else looked like they belonged and you didn’t. What did you do? Well, what most people do is they bring items from their home that are familiar—a picture of family members, a special coffee mug, a favorite pen. You come in each day, work, and after a while, the office begins to look and feel familiar. As adults, we have learned that change is difficult and that we need to be patient with ourselves and that we will eventually be comfortable once again.

Yet, knowing this, the very same people have no idea why their child is disturbed by the first day of school. “You’ll be meeting lots of new friends” “You will be learning all sorts of new things.” These reassurances are not helpful in that they are telling him or her to expect exactly what they are worried about. They don’t want new friends. They don’t want to learn new things. They want life as they knew it to go on and this school thing is looking a lot like it’s going to get in the way.

It is helpful to listen to your child’s fears and his or her images of what will happen in unknown territory. He or she needs to know that his or her feelings are valid and that you understand. It is also helpful to provide your child with objects that ease the transition, just as adults use objects to give their office a taste of home. Coincidentally, these are called, “transitional objects.” They can be small items that no one would notice, but would help the child bridge the gap between home (life as they know it) and school (life as they fear it.) Such objects could include a special home baked cookie for snack, wearing something that belongs to mother or father, a small object that has meaning for the child, or a favorite book.

The amazing thing about people is that it takes us a very short time to acclimate to a new environment. We can teach our children to use the same tactics as we use to ease their transitions. Most people are born with an ability to be resilient and your child’s resilience can be cultivated with patience, understanding, and support.

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