Ah, the glory of summer. Typically, children are on break, the weather is warmer, even adults sometimes have more relaxing schedules. Though summers are full of fun for kids, they can also be a time when families prepare for transitions. So as not to disturb school schedules, many choose the summer months to make major geographic or academic changes. For some families being on the move and making big transitions is nothing new. Even so, it’s not uncommon for some children (and many adults) to need additional support during times of major life change.
It’s important to keep in mind that there are many types of transitions. Some changes are planned, while some transitions are unplanned, such as a sudden disease or loss in the family. How to address change and prepare your child may vary according to the child’s age and other circumstances. However, there are a few helpful guiding principles to keep in mind.
1. If at all possible help your child anticipate what might happen as a result of the transition. Discuss the possible outcomes and talk through how you and your child would work through each one. Talk about how likely each outcome is. Let your child know that things will work out no matter what.
2. Let your child know they are not alone and they will have your support. Help your child also identify other people that might be sources of emotional safety.
3. Give your child the opportunity to voice any concerns they might have. When they do, help them think through what they would do and how you would help them handle it.
4. Get your child involved. Most negative emotions about changes come from feeling out of control, or of fear of the unknown. Involving your child in preparing for a transition increases the amount of power the child feels over their situation.
5. Rehearse! Picture together what the transition will look like, step-by-step. It can also be helpful (depending on age and circumstances) to draw out or write what will happen.
6. Use a transition object. Some children can benefit from taking an object from a previous environment into the new one. For example, if a young child has difficulty transitioning to a new classroom, they can bring a small object from the old classroom so the new one feels just a little less unfamiliar.
As always, if you feel that your child is having particular difficulty or starts displaying symptoms of anxiety or depression during a transition, please bring them to a qualified health professional. Have a happy summer!
This article originally appeared on page 23 of the beijingkids July 2015 issue. Click here to read the issue for free on Issuu.com. To find out how you can get your own copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.