Transitions: Facebook live
Sometimes it can feel like the whole of childhood is just one series of transitions, and helping your kids manage change well is an important part of parenting.
During their first eighteen years our kids will make multiple educational transitions, as well as face family changes, possible house moves, move in and out of friendship groups, start jobs, join new clubs: the list seems never-ending! And different children will react differently to change because of the ways their personalities are wired. Some will seem to cope effortlessly, while others will be really averse to change. But however their personalities are wired, we get to coach their character so they learn how to respond to and negotiate change well. We’re giving them skills for their whole life, from leaving home to getting married, facing redundancy or illness, becoming parents and even for retirement and beyond.
Rachel shared her wisdom on how to help our kids learn to transition well in one of our Bedtime Drinks with Rachel. You can watch the videos below, or scroll down to see a summary of what she said.
5 – 11s
Give them a theology of who God is in change (under fives, 5s to 11s and teens)
Our kids need to know that in the midst of change, God remains constant. They also need to see what God does in change so they can feel powerful in the change. Using Bible stories works for all ages. These are the examples Rachel gave:
- Expecting a new baby: the story of John and Peter in John 1, where the older sibling goes and fetches the younger one to meet Jesus; or Jeremiah 1: God knows awesome things about the new baby: how can we help them be all that God has planned for them to be?
- Starting a new school or group or moving home: the Israelites in Joshua 1. God has all sorts of things planned for them in the new country and their job is to walk boldly into it. I wonder what God’s got planned for you in your next group?
- Making or losing friends: David and Jonathan’s friendship, or the story of Epaphroditus in Philippians, whom Paul was sending away from him because other people needed him more.
- Facing a big change: the story of Caleb in Joshua 14 who when faced with change eagerly asked for the hardest part of the land to conquer
- Seeing God’s plans in change: Acts 13, where God selects Barnabas and Saul for a new thing; the story of how the Israelites were constantly guided by God (eg Exodus 13).
Prepare them ahead of time for what they are going to experience (under fives)
Under fives often find it difficult to imagine or understand new things they are going to experience. Help them prepare by:
- Giving them visuals: either take them to the new place or show them pictures of it or something similar. This works not just for a new location, but for new situations eg a new baby.
- Remind them of what will stay the same: for example, I’m still going to drop you off and pick you up, there’ll still be someone to help you.
- Giving them the skills of how they can engage: how to do up their coat on their own, how to hold a new baby. Whatever you know your child will worry about you can practice and role play, for example, how to ask for help in the classroom or invite someone to play with them.
Create windows into transitions in your life (under fives, 5s to 11s, teens)
Share stories of when you started school or moved to the youth group or had a new sibling – whatever your kid is facing. Talk about how it felt, what you did, where God was in it and what he did. Creating windows into transitions you are facing now can also be helpful.
Say a good goodbye (5s to 11s)
Help your child take time to say goodbye, reflecting on what emotions they feel, who has been significant in this last phase, what experiences are they grateful for. As well as helping cultivate a heart of gratitude, this will help them see there’ll be new things to be grateful for in the next place or season.
Show them how much they’ve changed (5s to 11s and teens)
Reflect together on how they are different / what skills they’ve learned / how their character has changed in this last phase, to help them remember that they will learn, grow and change in this next phase too.
Remind them of what they bring to every scenario (5s to 11s and teens)
When kids are facing big transitions, they can feel anxious about if they will cope or be able to fit in. When we remind them of the things people appreciate about them (rather then labelling them – the post Rachel refers to can be found here it can help them feel confident about the next stage.
Help them connect with God about it (under fives, 5s to 11s and teens)
There are usually a lot of emotions attached to change. Encourage them to chat and catch with God about everything they feel, including the negative stuff. Young children might want to show God how they feel using noises; older children may appreciate help identifying their emotions so they can chat to God about them. This is the song Rachel refers to in the teens video, Kristene DiMarco – Take Courage.
Questions Rachel answered
I’m concerned that my son – aged 5 – isn’t ready for the more structured learning in year 1. Talking about change is already sending his behaviour downhill! I’m learning that routine is crucial to help him with his behaviour so I’m worried about how the summer holiday and then a new year group will affect him. Any tips?
Any ideas for those day to day transitions….particularly unexpected change in routine (And we LOVE visual timetables and social stories…..but so often life doesn’t quite fit!)
How can I prepare my 2 year old for an upcoming divorce?
We are moving countries to lead a church and every time anyone mentions the new country we are going to our 5 year old cries, how can we help him with the sadness he feels about moving?
I am trying to help my children become more independent, not relying on me too much etc but my daughter is really struggling in the transition from the “baby” of the family to a big girl (she’s 5 1/2). I guess I’m asking for types of how to validate her as precious and loved and looked after but also encourage her into this more independent stage.
My daughter will be going into year 6 in September and therefore we will be considering secondary schools for the following year. I would like her to attend our local faith school, however she wants to attend the local high school – where all her primary school friends will be going. Can you suggest ways for me to encourage her to consider the faith school? (This was answered on the podcast, and you can hear Rachel’s answer here.)