Every parenting book out there will tell you that transitions are difficult for toddlers and young children. Toddlers often need support when moving from one activity or place to another. This is a known fact. Parents are counseled on how to support their young children during these times of change. We expect our kids to have a difficult time, so we help them through these challenging moments. We try not to get too frustrated with them because they are supposed to act this way.
Somewhere along the way, though, we are no longer expected to feel worried or need support through periods of change. At some point in our lives, we are expected to be able to handle change without giving it a second thought. I’m not sure the age when it is no longer socially acceptable to struggle with transitions, but I assure you that children are not the only ones struggling. Adults go through changes constantly and we need support, too.
Adults go through changes constantly and we need support, too.
My four-year-old son is getting ready to start preschool this month. We’ve been talking about his new teacher, learning which friends will be in his class, and we’ll visit his classroom before his first day. In short, we are preparing him for the transition that is approaching in order to make it more comfortable for him.
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My son is not the only one with an upcoming transition, however. As he starts school, my one-year-old son and I will also have a new schedule to adapt to. We will be eating lunch earlier and napping earlier to accommodate school. We will be rushing around in the afternoon, which used to be a more calm time in our house. We are all preparing for change.
Despite common thought, young children are not the only ones who need support through transitions.
Through the years of dealing with my own anxiety, I’ve learned what works best to support myself through transitions, both big and small:
1. Make a plan.
Feeling prepared always helps. This is obviously not always possible since some changes occur on short or no notice. But even when something unexpected happens, stop and take a deep breath before acting.
2. Find time for yourself amidst the chaos.
Having a few quiet moments to myself definitely helps me to stay calm and focused. As an introvert, I need mental and physical space to let my mind settle.
3. Ask for help.
When things are feeling crazy or I am having a lot of anxiety about an event, it helps to ask for support. That may mean asking for help to find a solution or it may mean physically helping me out with a task.
4. Talk about it.
Don’t suffer in silence. I don’t always need physical help during times of anxiety, but it usually feels good to just let out my concerns. Talking through my new plan with someone helps me solidify the ideas in my head.
5. Find comfort in small things.
This could be a cup of tea, a good book, a cuddly blanket on the couch. Anything that makes you feel calm and familiar can be helpful in times of transition. Toddlers have transitional objects (security blankets, special stuffed friends, etc) for a reason!
Show yourself some kindness and remember that it is okay to feel anxious or uneasy about transitions and changes.
No matter how large or small your transition feels, know that you are not alone and that there are ways to help yourself through it. I know my sons and I will find our new normal in a few weeks, but I will allow us all a little extra grace during this challenging time.
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