Dealing with transitions sometimes looks and feels a lot like grief for those of us who struggle to let go of things that are familiar and secure. While not everyone will feel this way, for many, taking time to prepare for transitions can help us move towards acceptance. As adults, it is important to remember that our kids may need our help to adjust to changes that they are facing even when they don’t seem like a big deal to us – it might be a big deal for them. It helps to first take care of our own feelings about the changes, and then take time to explore the feelings that our kids are experiencing. The following are a few tips that can help us get there:
- Create a safe space for reflection. Ask your kids how they are feeling about the change without judgement. It may help some kids to express their feelings, and it may be difficult for them to voice exactly how they feel – it may be a combination of excitement, fear, anxiety, and distress. Those feelings are all okay and are natural.
- Find ways to help process the difficult feelings. Unpack the feelings and what they are associated with. Practice mindfulness with your child – learning to breath through moments when feelings of stress, fear, and anxiety creep up can be very helpful. For those who enjoy writing, writing in journal can be a good way to help process feelings. Consider engaging a therapist if your child is feeling overwhelmed and is having a difficult time processing how they are feeling.
- Try to identify positive elements of the change. Find things associated with the change that we can look forward to will help us learn to lean into it. It might be seeing a favourite teacher, or a friend we haven’t seen all summer. We can also create positive elements for ourselves and for our kids by interspersing fun activities into the change process, like an early morning bike ride, an afterschool family games night, or extra time doing a favourite activity.
- Practice and role model self care. Sometimes when we are stressed, or are immersed in our day-to-day lives, we forget to actively focus on ourselves. Take time to relax & take a break – a change of scenery, a healthy snack, a walk in the park, spending time with friends, a long bath – whatever it is, an intentional break is can help recharge and rebalance us.
Dealing with transitions can create a sense of insecurity and loss. Finding ways to attach positive feelings and meaning to the change can help cultivate the confidence to face it. It may take time to find the confidence to move through change, though when we do, it is worthwhile to reflect on our progress so we can feel more empowered to navigate future transitions.
For Children: A short video on strategies to cope with changes.
For Youth: Strategies on what you can do to help you manage changes in life.
For Caregivers: Some strategies to help children with transition.
For Educators: 7 Tips for Educators Returning to School During COVID-19