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Rhee Helliwell | Oct 29, 2017

Helping kids through big transitions

Categories: Teens, Education, Children, Health, Tips

Many children struggle with big changes, such as moving house, changing school or siblings moving out. Often these situations can trigger unwanted behaviour, tears, fear, anxiety and can even affect your child’s academic performance. If you are aware your child is struggling, we’ve found some simple tools and techniques you can use to help them have an easier time with challenging transitions.

Prepare

Give your child lots of time to process the transition and provide them with age appropriate information. The longer they have to understand what’s happening may help them feel more prepared and it will also give them time to ask any questions, especially if something is worrying them. Depending on the transition, try and provide them with some information. This might be a picture of their new room if you’re moving or visiting a park near their new school before term starts.

Encourage expression

With big changes, comes new emotions and feelings, which may be difficult for your child to process or put into words. Make sure they have an outlet to express themselves. This can be drawing, writing a story, modelling with clay or play dough, or writing in a diary. An alternative option would be finding a book in the library about a child dealing with a similar situation. 

Talk about it

With big changes, it’s important to try and create normalcy around the situation. Start making it part of everyday conversation, which will get help your child gradually get used to the impending transition. We also recommend asking questions and talking openly together, as this will also help your child open up, especially if they’re feeling worried.

Find positives

If you notice your child is feeling negative about a big change happening, try and find the positives together. For example, they may be sad about leaving their primary school, however, remind them about the opportunity to make new friends and their new school is near a big library. Finding the positives will always help the transition seem more exciting rather than being dreaded.  

Practice coping skills

Finally, create a list of calming and coping strategies and practice them with your child as often as you can. This can range from breathing techniques, counting to 10 or just finding someone to talk to. Role-playing situations together can also help make kids feel more confident about the impending changes and provides them with options of how to deal with the event in real life.