This time of year, children are getting ready to end the school year and begin the transition of going into summer. I like to think of this as a unique balancing act of opposing energy: excitement and uncertainty. How do we honor the excitement and the un-comfortability of the unknown? Below I have provided three tips to help your child thrive, not just during the summer transition, but during all of life’s challenging turning points.
- Acknowledge both sides. Give yourself and your child permission to feel every emotional experience. Openly have conversations with your child about your feelings on the specific situation. Know that it’s ok if that includes total relief, anxiety, fear or excitement. Too often we want to only focus on one feeling of the transition, leaving the other side to linger unsaid. You can encourage your child to share all of their emotions. Its ok if you have different feelings, it’s a place to honor where you are – different and the same.
- Help your child know what will happen next.Decreasing the unknown is something we talk about here a lot at Play Therapy i.n.c. With any change and transition there are lots of unknowns and this can increase symptoms of anxiety and fears. Ultimately, these symptoms of anxiety and fear can result in more challenging behaviors. Come to your child with a “game plan” of sorts. Let them know (as much as you can) what the next steps are and lay out the plan ahead. Are you able to share photos of any upcoming event? Can you visit any new places or meet any new people involved in the specific transitional event?
- Consider past transitions and changes. Think back to major transitions and changes your child has experienced and how you could support them in managing this change. As adults we learn strategies to help us manage change based on what we think will help us the most. As a parent you know how your children do with change and transitions. Are they easy going and carefree, or do they spark lots of sleepless nights, tantrums, or striking out at siblings? No different from us our children need strategies, support, and comfort in times of change and transitions. Consider this an opportunity to create a new pattern for how transitions and change can go.
-Kelly Miller LCSW, RPT/S