August has arrived and before you know it kids will be starting a new school year. That means they’ll experience a change – typically a new teacher and possibly a new school. We believe the tough part is not the change; it’s the transition.
The discovery that the transition was worse than the actual change came from personal experience. When our eldest son was hired as an assistant coach in the NFL, our Christmas traditions went right out the window. The NFL season doesn’t end until after Christmas.
One evening I, Kendra, was whining to a friend about it, telling her I hated change. Her response was simple, “You don’t hate change; you hate transitions.” After that statement she challenged me to think of positive changes that had followed difficult transitions.
School-age kids will be experiencing several changes in the next few weeks – changes that don’t just affect the kids. These can be tough for parents too. When a parent leaves their child at school or preschool for the first time the transition from having Mom or Dad close by at all times is typically upsetting for both parent and child. When the transition is complete and the change becomes a pleasant routine, all is well once again.
Any change brings with it the possibility of a rough transition – a teenager going away to college or an adult child getting married, for example. Obviously there are also cases when the change is so drastic and/or debilitating that this concept doesn’t apply.
Parents can help their children with these transitions, first by being aware of their own feelings and choosing to respond to the situation rather than react. Mom and Dad, you are always modeling for your children. Be certain your behavior doesn’t suggest that the transition is unbearable and the ultimate change will be negative. Instead model the kind of coping behavior you want your child to display.
Don’t make a big deal out of something that isn’t (a big deal). Keep your negative emotions to yourself. Also remember it isn’t your child’s responsibility to cheer you up. Change is a fact of life and the attachment you have with your child doesn’t have to break because of the changes, it merely has to morph to allow for the transitions, the changes, and maturity.