The Terror of Transitions
Transitions. Are you in transition? New school year? New home? New job? Redecorating your home? Building a new home? New friendship? New baby? New stepchild? Newly married? Living without a loved one?
The transitions mentioned above are pretty big deals and can be quite the thing to deal with for any of us. Going through a period of adjustment with these kinds of transitions is expected. Sometimes, though some children fall apart when ANYTHING is different -- even the smallest things.
How does your child handle moving from one activity to another? Is this a challenge at your house? at school? in public places?
Do you feel like you are living life on eggshells wondering when the next explosion will take place? You have tried disciplining them for their meltdowns but often it is really not a discipline issue. So many times these children are dealing with fears and phobias which seem unfounded to you. So may times these children are dealing with hyper sensory issues that -- apart from living in their skin -- we really cannot begin to understand their struggle. You want to understand. You know you want to prepare the child as much as possible for what is to come. You talk things over until you are dry in the throat. You are exhausted from having to "think on your feet" for every situation that arises.
Here are two ideas that have proven quite successful for other families with children who terrorize over transitions:
1) Routine Chart. Create a chart for all the routines you have in your family. The first one may want to be a chart that shows the flow of the day normally -- sort of an overall schedule -- which probably changes from day to day -- so you can make five or seven different overall charts. Then, you can get more specific with different charts
- a morning routine chart (what you want to happen as soon as they open their eyes),
- a meal routine chart (what is expected to help prepare the meal or the table for said meal, what foods are acceptable [if types of food available is a battle] and afterwards the clean up),
- a "get ready to go out to run errands" chart (maybe adding to the chart the offering that they can take a favorite toy to help move them along),
- a specific activity chart (our Amy attended a children's choir when she was very young -- it was called "Cherub Choir" -- we made a chart so that Amy could know what to expect during the choir practice, when they sang in public, etc.), and
- a bedtime routine chart.
2) Digital recordings. If you have followed us for any length of time, you have seen or heard this idea before. We like to bring up the very cool tool of digital recordings in many places so that you can see specifically how versatile they can be for many different challenges your child is experiencing.
Here are some components to the recording:
- It is in the child’s perspective. So, it will be in first person.
- It targets a particular struggle you have seen in your child.
- It gives the correct thinking and in some instances an action step they can take when they get in a particular bind.
- For daytime listening, we suggest the recording be no more than 3 to 5 minutes long. It can be played several times during the day but short three to five minute stints work better.
- For nighttime listening (while they are asleep) you can make the recording as long as you like. The important thing is that the recording be positive and uplifting and only cover one thing at a time.
A simple example may be: suppose you want your child to follow a routine chart that you have prepared for him or her. You can make a recording that goes something like this: "I am very excited about my wake up in the morning chart. When I wake up and get out of bed, I will go straight to my chart to see what the first thing is that I need to do. I will then do the next thing and the next thing and the next thing (you can even specifically list what those next things are). I am happy to do all the things on my chart."
Another example: I love my family and my toys and my house. I really like when things stay the same. Sometimes, though, things change and THAT IS OKAY. I know that mommy and daddy love me and that I will always be safe. I am okay if the schedule gets changed and we have to go somewhere quickly. I am okay if the schedule gets changed and we have to stay home from playgroup. I am okay if mom says "pick up your toys now, it is time for bed" because I know that I will get to play with my toys again tomorrow."
A good way to get started is to observe your child and your interactions with them for a few days or weeks. Make a list of "issue" items. Pick one that you want to work on first. Then prepare charts and a script addressing that issue.
Children who struggle with transitions have wrong information running around in their heads. For some reason, they have picked up thoughts and mindset pieces that are not serving them well. Routine charts and digital recordings can go a long way to provide the INPUT that is necessary for them to change their minds and operate with correct information -- with truth
We recommend digital recordings for all kinds of things parents wish to communicate to their children and teachers wish to communicate to their students. What you are doing is simply replacing the untruth and false information floating around in their heads with the truth in another form -- one that is easier on you. This is renewal of the mind.
At March Forth Family, we have many more tools in our toolbox to help families with children who struggle with transitions. Contact us if you would like to schedule a complimentary get acquainted call today regarding our private coaching.
Tom and Julie Meekins