Transition Month – July
During our lives, there are often times when we will experience change. Change can be difficult for adults, let alone children. July is known as a time of transition for many young ones. A time when they say goodbye to old routines and are facing embarking on new ones. Many children will in fact be undertaking ‘settling in’ sessions at other settings at the moment in an effort to prepare them for September and the new academic year. Changes can feel like good changes but they can also feel like bad changes. They can also be permanent or temporary and children don’t always understand the difference. The purpose of this blog is to help any parents who feel like their child is struggling with transition over the summer. We hope to give some handy hints and useful tips to support your child through change.
Examples of changes are:
- School holidays – a change in routine
- Moving to a new class
- Moving from primary school to secondary school
- Moving from preschool into primary school
- Moving from Infants to Juniors/to a new Key Stage
Changes like these can make your child feel excited but they can also seem daunting and can be a lot for their minds to process. In fact, don’t be surprised if your child seems more tired at the moment than usual or their behaviour seems off-piste. Their days are currently full of ‘end of term’ activities and transition tasks. They are sort of in limbo at the moment, finishing off in one year group but also learning about another. This can be a lot of information to take in whilst also dealing with feelings of sadness about leaving something behind but also wondering about something new. Additionally, ‘end-of-term-itis’ might also be settling in as the half-term is coming to an end.
Dealing with change can be difficult for many reasons and can stir up uncomfortable feelings in the young at any age. Talking to your child is massively beneficial, for example explaining why they are changing their routine and discussing what their new routine will look like. Children put all their trust into their care-givers so if we, as their parents, can explain why something is happening and the positives of the change, this will really help them to adjust. Allow them to state why they feel anxious – don’t just brush their feelings under the carpet with phrases like, “Oh, you’ll be fine.” Instead, explain that dealing with change can be hard and then chat about some of the potential reasons for this. They may have many questions or thoughts in their heads that they are worrying about, for example:
- How will I cope with changes to my routine?
- I am uncertain about what will happen next.
- I feel like I am losing something (e.g.: changing school).
Let your child explore their feelings with you and then on the flip-side, acknowledge that changes can be positive too – this is how we learn and grow. Sometimes, reminding your child of the changes they have already been through and the fact that they have ‘come out the other side’ positively, might be all they need to give them the confidence to do it again.
Another great discussion topic is talking about things your child can do to help themselves when they feel apprehensive. Younger children can obviously not regulate their choices like older children can but having a bank of ‘distraction activities’ as a parent can be really beneficial when you spot that your child is feeling nervous about up-and-coming changes.
Ideas are (adapt for age-appropriateness):
- Focus on a simple task – for example mindful colouring or tidying up
- Doing something that makes you happy – for example playing with your favourite toy
- Helping someone else in your household with a job
- Doing some exercise
- Reading a book
- Having a nap/getting an early night (sleep works wonders)
- Treating yourself to your favourite snack
- Spending some time with friends
- Listening to music
- Spending some time in nature
- Watching a film or TV show
Focusing on a simple task can help your child to re-focus their attention and bring them out of their own ruminative thoughts. There has been a lot of research into activities children can do to ‘help’ themselves when feeling worried. Being altruistic has been found to be extremely beneficial for a person’s wellbeing – even in children. Doing something ‘nice’ or helpful for someone else can improve how a child feels and can give them something different to focus on. Additionally, we all know that physical activities are good for our bodies but physical and mental health are inextricably linked. Physical activity can work wonders to boost the wellbeing of a child’s mind as well as keep them fit. Finally, making sure that your child gets enough sleep over the next few weeks will help them too. Not getting a good night’s sleep can make them feel tired and result in your little one finding it difficult to cope with daily life. In turn, this can impact negatively on a child’s mental health and wellbeing if they go without quality sleep for a long period of time.
As an aside note, if you feel like your child is particularly struggling with this month of transition, talk to their teacher or key worker about this and ways in which they can he helped. Lastly, be kind to yourself as a parent and to your child – you are both going through a time of change. The old adage of ‘Anticipation is worse than the actual event itself’ often rings true eventually.