Friday, June 15, 2012

Transitioning: It's more than music time!

Huge life changes anyone? I recently got married (5 months tomorrow!!). I will fully admit to being a gushy newly-wed, but I’m totally ok with that. Here are a few pictures so you can see how cute we are (photos by Lora Grady Photography): 

Two days before I got married I had an almost breakdown. I called my parent surrogates (my parents died when I was 19) absolutely freaking out (we’re talking high pitched, fast cry-talking). My father said, “I’m not qualified for this,” and passed the phone to his wife.

I didn’t know what my life was going to be like in a few days and that was just scary to me! My mother said she had been waiting for this “reality hitting me” phone call, which made me feel a lot better. She reminded me that yes, this was a big transition in my life, but I knew I was doing the right thing, and I love my (now) husband very, very much and that the new comfortability in my new life would develop, probably easier than I thought (an honestly, isn’t he just so handsome? I am very happy in my marriage!).

This is my "I'm trying to do a sexy, but I'm mostly just really exhausted" face.

Get what I’m talking about yet? Transitions!

Just like getting married was a huge change in my life, changes in pretty much anything can be really hard for a child! I’m an adult and my life changes still want to make me cry sometimes. Here are some of the reactions that children may have to a transition in life: 
  1. Temper tantrums
  2. Disobedience
  3. Confusion
  4. Attachment to a parent or other figure (maybe a blanket or stuffed animal)
  5.  Lack of sleep or desire to eat
  6. Over excitement (I watched this one in a friend’s daughter that kept saying, “No, I can’t just wait Mommy, I just can’t!”)
Doesn’t that sound fun! These can either be because a child is overly excited or because the child is saddened by the change. Either way, there are things you can do to help your child transition and make changes easier. Here are a few ideas:
  1. Talk to your child about what is going on well before the event is going to happen, and keep talking about it. If they are starting kindergarten, moving, or even going to visit Grandma, make sure that they know it’s going on, what will happen (are they going on an airplane, for example) and what that means. Kids understand more than we think of what we tell them. By explaining things to your child you are building a relationship of trust.
  2. Make sure your children can talk about their feelings before during and after the change. This means that the child talks about what they’re feeling, and the adult mostly listens. By talking about their feelings, and having an adult give a name to that feeling (after the child has adequately talked about it), a child can learn to be emotionally competent and confident. It makes those feeling less confusing to the child, and again, they trust the parent more with their feelings in the future. (This is called Emotion Coaching)
  3. Keep regular rituals before, during, and after a transition. This can be hard, especially in the middle of a move, but having predictable patterns makes a world seem a little less shaky when you’re unsure of what’s going on or what’s happening next.
  4. Prep your child for the small and the big things! This can be anything from a Dr’s visit or recital to moving into a new home or starting a new grade.
  5. Don’t stop doing transitions just because your child is older or they seem to be ambivalent to the news! Keep up that open communication regardless.
  6. If you haven’t prepped your child ahead of time, or something happens unpredictably, and you find that you’re having problems after the event, make sure that they child knows that you care about them and that they have your support. If a child is properly attached to an adult, that gives them a safe home-base to rely on when it seems like their world is hazy. Again, Emotion Coaching can really make a huge difference!
Using these and other strategies (see the links below) can really make a huge difference in the trust and comfortable feeling of a child in their life. Think about it, kids don’t have control over much and don’t have the experience that adults do, but if they have a loving adult that’s helping them see the changes for what they are and how they can be dealt with, you’ve given them a great tool!

What other ways have you made transitioning easier for your kids (or nieces/nephews, kids you babysit, anything)?

Here’s some more information:

Aren't we cute?


  1. Kami, this blog is genius. Consider it added to my blog-stalking list! You have such a way with words! We need to get together soon! :) So glad to hear you're doing well!!!!

    1. Thanks Lora! This is what I do at my job, and I love it!