The transition from primary school to ‘big school’, school to college, or home education to college, can be both exciting and unsettling. And not just for the kids; we parents have to manage both the practicalities and more importantly our feelings about it too, not to mention the change of family routine that results.
Naturally we are always concerned for our children as they make these transitions, praying that their new experiences will be positive ones. So we’re dealing with our own emotions as well as theirs and it’s important we don’t project ours onto them.
We can do that by maintaining a positive attitude to the whole process through focussing on the new and exciting things rather than the not so good, for there are bound to be some of those along with teething problems as the youngster adjusts.
We should always give time to listen. Time to discuss their new experiences if they want, hopefully without being too intense. And encourage them to allow some time to get used to the changes they face and see how they feel about the new issues they encounter in a month, for example. (We’ll need to do that too).
This shows empathy for their new situation, which they might find daunting, understands they’re feeling strange, and shows we’re on their side.
Some other ways to help ride out these family transition times might be to: –
- Plan ahead for the new morning routine and prep everything that’s needed – clothes, equipment, timings – to lessen any morning stress
- Be patient. It’s important to show interest; but not be too demanding or question them incessantly. Some kids want to tell all about their new experiences, others want to be left alone to assimilate their new experiences in a personally reflective way. It’s important to tune into their needs either way
- Expect some differences in them. They are growing, becoming more independent and they do change. Adjusting to a new situation is stressful and often makes the youngsters tired, irritable, cross or anxious which can display in different ways (e.g impatience with siblings is often cited by parents) Tolerance is needed at this transitional time
- Remember to talk about other things. This helps dilute anxieties. Maybe plan something nice to do at the weekend. Especially old favourites
- Make sure they’re rested and fed too. Again; a time for old favourites!
Your reaction and engagement with your youngsters will help support them, and you, through these unsettling periods. But it needs to be neither too much nor too little and by reading the signs, putting yourself in their shoes and keeping any anxieties you may have in check, you’ll be able to get it right and move smoothly into new routines.
Look out for our post about the transition to Uni.