Helping Children Through a Transition

Andrea FortenberryFamilyLeave a Comment

“Kids are so resilient.”

Have you ever heard that phrase? I often hear it when people are talking about a move or a divorce and how it will affect the kids.

While I believe that phrase is often true, it’s not always true. And it’s also not always true right away. Sometimes kids have a hard time with transitions— big life changes that alter their structure, routine, relationships or surroundings.

While we can’t avoid change, it’s ironically a certainty of life, we can adopt strategies that can help our families make the most of a transition. Here are a few:

  • Take a moment to think back on your childhood: What transitions occurred that took time for you to adjust to? What would have been helpful for you in that season? Try to do those things for your kids.
  • Let grief have its place: Grief is a natural process when we experience any type of loss, including a move or when kids must change schools. Allow your kids to be sad. If you’re sad, let them see you sad. Allowing everyone in the family to grieve is healthy and productive.
  • Honor the past and look forward to the future: Create a scrapbook to commemorate what you’re moving away from. Let the kids creatively express their feelings and capture special memories they have. At the same time, dream together about the future. Talk about what the transition makes possible: is it new friends? A school with exciting extra-curricular activities? While kids may not be able to imagine good coming out of a change, talking about it may plant seeds that will grow over time.
  • Ask questions and listen: Make time to talk to your kids regularly about how they’re feeling. Ask questions that will require more of a response than “Yes” or “No.” Instead of “Did you have a good day?” Ask something like, “What did you enjoy about school today? What challenged you?”
  • Pray together: Family prayer is such a powerful way to strengthen your bond with God and each other. Pray about what God might have in store for your family through the change and in the new season. Write down your prayers and down the road, you’ll be able to see and remember how He answered them.

What other strategies do you have for helping children through a transition?

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