Many of the kids we work with struggled greatly with transitioning from one thing to another. Transitions such as going to bed at the end of the day, moving off a video game into school work, leaving something that they are really enjoying, going to an appointment, or starting a new school year can all result in anxiety. The bigger the transition the bigger the anxiety.
What are some ways to cope? Know as much as is knowable before a big transition. My (Nadine’s) daughter, Megan, is facing an enormous transition this fall. She is ending four incredible years at her residential school and moving on to adult life. She’s moving away from home and into a house with three of her friends from her school. She’s anxious and concerned about the mystery of this new uncharted territory. Here are the ways we’re preparing her for this move.
Visit the new environment– for us, that’s Megan’s new home, but for kids starting a new school year they might be able to visit the school this month as teachers are setting up these classrooms. This is particularly important when changing schools. Kids worry about getting lost and not knowing where to go.
Affirmation that they’ve got this – I mail daily notes to Megan (see image). She prefers this to text messages because she collects them in a pile and reads them often. The ones she particularly likes, she tapes to her wall. Knowing that others believe in you can help you believe in yourself.
Power poses – we’ve written about these before but this strategy is really effective when transitioning. Stand like Wonder Woman or Superman for 2 minutes. It might feel a little silly but it will reduce the stress hormone (cortisol) and increase the strength hormone (testosterone). For more on this watch the Amy Cuddy Ted Talk.
Mindfulness– deep breathing, focusing on what’s good, being grateful for all the positive aspects of your life are all ways to remain calm. Our favorite Mindfulness apps are Headspace and Mindful Powers.
Friends – friends can also help during a tough moment. Knowing that a peer cares and is willing to listen can be affirming and calming.
Transitions and change are hard. They just are. The best we can do is try to find solace and strength and assume that the new year will be even better than the last. It’s truly believing in the power of positive thinking.
Download our free social story on transitions by clicking here.
Transitions Are Tricky
Nadine Briggs, Director of Simply Social Kids and Donna Shea, Founder of the Peter Pan Center for Social and Emotional Growth are authors of the How to Make and Keep Friends books series. They specialize in creating simple tips that teach kids with social challenges the social language of friendship.
Connect with Briggs and Shea on www.howtomakeandkeepfriends.com, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.