Monday, November 16, 2020

How Change and Transitions Affect Kids

Change... Does this word make you cringe? Transition... and what does this word make you feel?

We are creatures of habit. Routines help us keep organized, stay focused, and remain structured.

But how do change and transition affect children?

Everyday transitions like getting ready for bed or needing to leave the house to go to the store can lead to undesired behaviors like whining and crying or negotiating and stalling. The more routine the everyday transitions become, the more improved behaviors should become.

If your child is being asked to do something never done previously there will most likely be a level of fear even if the activity is fun like going to a movie theater, traveling on a train or plane, or swimming. 

There are also those occasions when a child has to do something less pleasant like visiting the dentist or attending a wake or funeral, or going to the hospital. You can help your children by preparing them for these inevitable events. 

Tell them what this new place looks like from the outside and the inside; what will happen there, what their behavior should be and what they will see other people doing. Show them pictures you find on the internet as examples. Ask them what questions they have. Remind them of past successes with other transitions/changes.

Then there are those major life changing transitions like starting school, moving to a new home, having a new sibling, and experiencing a death that bring strong feelings of fear, anxiety, and sadness to children. The same preparation mentioned above will help as will having them participate as much as possible. 

This makes them feel like they are important and part of the experience (making a card for the new teacher; choosing the color of paint for their bedroom; picking out new clothes for the baby; getting flowers for the memorial service). 

Understanding that your children will have strong emotions (and that the emotions are okay) will demonstrate your love and support.