Transitions happen every day in your child’s world and September, like no other month, is a time of transitions for your child. Starting a new grade. Getting a new teacher. Learning new classroom rules. Adding more homework. No matter what the transition, you can expect an added level of stress as your child adapts to the change.
When making the transition to a new grade, your child will be challenged by more rigorous academic challenges, more social demands and more responsibility. Your child will have to follow the rules, take turns, make new friends, learn harder material and try to meet the requirements of a new teacher(s).
It takes a lot of energy, focus and control to keep it together all day long at school, so most kids will be tired and you’ll see an increase in temper tantrums, whining and defiance at home. Don’t take it personally! Recognize the stress that your child is under!
The best response to stress is to provide empathy and support, help the child gain a sense of control, create rituals that provide predictability and teach your child ways to de-stress.
Ways to Show Empathy:
A.) Listen- Become an “empathic listener” by listening for feelings.
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- Listen for the unspoken feelings that are behind the words that are said.
- Look at your child’s body language and try to gain helpful information.
- Listen with your heart.
- Don’t be critical.
- Give your child your full attention by sitting down, looking him/her in the eye.
- Try to reflect back the feeling that you believe your child is conveying…
B.) Ask open-ended questions. i.e. What will you miss about preschool? What do you like about your new teacher? What’s the hardest part of your day?
C.) Share a story from your childhood. The point here is to share a struggle that you had and the different feelings that you experienced. If you found a process that helped you overcome the struggle, share that, too.
Another helpful tip is to understand that transitions involve a sense of loss: A loss of fun. A loss of spontaneity. Or a loss of my classroom as I know it.
Generally, when a child feels a sense of loss s/he feels a loss of control. A beneficial strategy is to help the child gain a sense of control. So how do you do that?
Tools for Empowering Your Child
A.) Involve your child in the decision. Ask you child, “What might help you feel more comfortable?”
B.) Walk your child through the process, explaining how it will go. Knowledge is power.
C.) Show visual aids such as reading books on the subject.
D.) Explain the benefits so the child can learn the positives.
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E.) Slow down the pace. Give your child a chance to wind down or to say goodbye.
F.) Learn to read your child’s cues and help him/her learn to identify them, too.