Ten Tips for Transition

Ten Tips for Transition

Because it bears repeating, here are my final thoughts on transition as we prepare to wrap up this year and move into the summer and the fall with so many unknowns. How can you adapt the following to nurture yourself and your child through all of life’s upcoming changes?

  1. Slow down. Young children need A LOT of time to transition from one activity to another, so slow down and then slow down some more. We tend to be very goal oriented as adults, but children value process over the end goal.
  2. Talk to your child. Even with unknowns, we can talk to our child through the process. As appropriate, share what you do know and let them know that you will continue to be there to support them through any changes.
  3. Hold space for your child’s feelings. It’s natural for young children to have big feelings when changes occur, especially if they don’t have words to express what they are feeling. Even if it seems unrelated, allow them to move through whatever they are feeling, whether sadness, anger, or disappointment, so they can release it and move on.
  4. Be patient with unusual behavior. Sometimes children’s response to change manifests in their behavior, so if they are behaving in ways you’ve never seen, remember, again, that this might be their way of processing any changes that are occurring. Address the behavior as needed with understanding and compassion.
  5. Give space. We all need space at times, right? Allow your child time AND their own space to have their big feelings. Rather than try to fix it right away, wait until they move out of their “dino” brain before you attempt to talk to them or process with them. That can be done once they return to a calm and more receptive state.
  6. Maintain boundaries. As much as we want to hold space for our child’s feelings and be compassionate for new behaviors, it is still OK and necessary to maintain boundaries. Too much freedom and lack of structure can be overwhelming for young children, and giving them a sense of where the boundaries are gives them a sense of continued security when all else may feel uncertain.
  7. Maintain a sense of order and routine. Similar to maintaining boundaries, maintaining a semblance of order and routine helps everyone, big and small, to stay connected and grounded. Though all else may feel uncertain, regular routines help give us a sense of security which allows us to move forward through life’s inevitable changes.
  8. STAY CONNECTED. This is such a big one. Remember that no one likes to feel corrected when they don’t feel connected. If nothing else, remember to lean in during those times when your child’s behavior is especially challenging or annoying. Sometimes all they need is to know that you’re still going to be there with them in the challenging times.
  9. Fill your child’s cup. Sometimes children become clingier or more anxious during periods of change and transition. It’s ok to spend extra time with them and give them extra hugs and reassurance. Transition is temporary and when your child’s cup is full and they feel certain again, they will begin to venture out again with confidence. Acknowledge their need and stay positive and encouraging. “I understand things feel different right now. I’ll be here to give you a hug whenever you need one, and when you’re ready, you can move on.”
  10. Embrace uncertainty. Nothing in life is guaranteed, and we are feeling that more than ever these days. Know that even though you don’t have control over your external circumstances, you can control how you respond to them and that alone will have more impact on your child than anything else.
  11. Take care of yourself. I know I was supposed to stop at ten, but this is important to say. You are important. Enough said.

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