Smooth Transitions During Times of Change

Smooth Transitions During Times of Change

Smooth Transitions During Times of Change

The beginning of the school year means new classrooms, friends, programs, expectations, and more. Here are some tips to help parents recognize and address the complexities of change, setting the tone for successful outcomes for their children.

Parents cannot possibly anticipate all the changes that occur in a child’s life. Change might be expected or unexpected, big or little, painstakingly slow or lightning fast. Sometimes close friends move away, a new sibling arrives, or family problems arise. It helps if parents think about the transitions occurring within their child’s world—along with potential implications.

 School-related change may involve new teachers, a switch from public school to homeschooling, relocation to a different neighborhood, or transfer to a specialized program. For children, these kinds of changes can be worrisome, pleasant, motivating—or no big deal.

Chat with kids about the reasons for a change, what will likely occur (academically, emotionally, or socially), and how to chart a sensible course of action. If you think a change may be unsettling for your child, discuss ways to make it happen smoothly. Get creative! Perhaps it’s possible to adjust the extent, pace, or nature of the process. Children who feel comfortable about a change are better able to handle it.

Most changes can be managed well with preparation and guidance. We all have times of uncertainty when we lack confidence about our capabilities, or are concerned about what might happen, or question how (or if) to proceed. Help kids appreciate that as they get older they will continue to develop a better understanding of what they can do well, what they need to work really hard at, and when they have to make the best of a situation by finding ways to deal with it.

 Parents can help children develop adaptability and resilience during times of change. Here are six tips:

 1.) Knowledge is empowering. Take careful stock of the change, and share information about it with your child. Better yet, teach her how to acquire her own knowledge about the situation.

 2.) Reflection is constructive. Think about the implications of the change, including potential risks or benefits. Take into account your child’s comfort level, and help him understand his feelings.

3.) Support systems can lighten the load. Check out support services at school and within the community, including people involved in planning and implementing changes, and any others who might provide assistance.

 4.) Complexities can be simplified. Can the situation be altered to be more accommodating of your child’s individual needs? Do you foresee any adjustment problems that can be offset?

5.) The unexpected is inevitable. Pay attention to unexpected factors and outside influences. Encourage your child to do the same, and to be flexible. Change might offer new possibilities!

6.) Professional help is available. Seek professional advice if it becomes apparent that your child needs increased support or coping strategies. For example, if she can’t sleep, won’t eat, loses interest in friends, or experiences some other unusual problem, this may indicate a need for assistance.

Children can learn to size up a change, and decide what and whom they can rely upon when adjusting to it. Parents can revisit the six reference points to help kids surmount difficulties, feel more confident, and sustain positive momentum throughout the year.

For additional information:

Not Now, Maybe Later: Helping Children Overcome Procrastination by Joanne Foster (Great Potential Press, 2015).

Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids by Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster (House of Anansi, 2014)

Make It a Happy Start to School: Our Top Ten Secrets by Dona Matthews 

Helping Kids Thrive in Middle School and High School by Dona Matthews

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