Transitions are difficult for everyone, and they can be especially hard for young children. Big changes like moving, beginning a new school year, or shifting between in-person and remote learning are sure to have an impact. Even seemingly small adjustments that impact a child’s day-to-day life can be tricky to navigate.
If you can prepare your child in advance of a transition, the extra time to process it can help immensely. And even through unexpected changes, there are ways you can help your child work through their emotions and navigate a transition more smoothly.
Here are three steps to help children process a change:
Discuss what to expect
It’s important to talk through how this change will impact your child’s life. Some topics to cover may include:
- Why this change is happening
- What the benefits are
- What the potential challenges are
- How this may affect their daily routine
And be sure to give your child the opportunity to ask any questions they may have. Clearing up any uncertainties will help your child feel more comfortable with the transition.
Make a list of your child’s needs
Explore any aspects of the change that your child may be nervous about. Then, work together to come up with solutions that will help them navigate the transition.
Your list will likely include physical needs as well as emotional ones—for example, if your child is preparing for a new school year, they may need a new backpack and school supplies, as well as an extra chance to reconnect with their friends beforehand.
The opportunity to build the list together will help your child feel supported, and will demonstrate how to work through problems and create solutions.
Help your child check in on their emotions
Change often brings up a range of emotions that can be complex and difficult to navigate, especially for children. To help your child manage their emotions, the first step is to help them become more aware of how they’re feeling.
Education.com has many social-emotional resources to guide students through this reflection process. For example, Education.com’s internal weather report activity helps students check in with themselves in a way that’s both tangible and fun.
Education.com also provides simple strategies to help children work through difficult emotions. For example, they can use the BCOOL (Breathe-Calm-Okay-Observe-Love) method of self-calming, or other mindfulness techniques. Kids can also try the five-finger relaxation activity or making a calm down bottle.
Navigating transitions gets easier with practice, and following these steps can help your child strengthen their ability to adapt to change. For more tips and resources, check out Education.com’s worksheets and activities focused on social-emotional learning.