Transitions are periods in our lives where we undergo change, passing from one life experience to another. Throughout our lives, we are continuously experiencing change; physiological changes, changes in our environment, developmental changes in our children, changes in our relationships, emotional changes, etc. We may not always be aware of this constant state of change. When major life transitions occur, however, it can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming. Some children and adults even struggle with transitioning from one activity to another. Transitions are often difficult because we worry about what comes next and struggle with managing our expectations and fears. Typical academic transitions that are challenging for our children include: “moving up” from preschool to kindergarten, elementary to middle school, middle school to high school, high school to college, and graduating college. These transitions can be challenging for parents as well, particularly their child’s transition into adolescence and then adulthood.
The best strategy for successfully navigating life’s transitions is to be proactive, not reactive. Consider the following suggestions:
- Name it: Our most powerful tool to manage and understand our expectations, fears, and concerns is language. By discussing these issues we can clarify the issues of concern.
- Problem solve it: Once we clarify our concerns, we can then begin to develop a game plan to address them. If, for example, our elementary student is worried about lockers in middle school, visiting the school and practicing opening the lock can ease anxiety.
- Celebrate it: We have far fewer rituals in our culture than we once had. Rituals provide us with an opportunity to celebrate life transitions and honor those who are going through them.
- Monitor it: As the transition unfolds, we want to continue to process, problem solve, and celebrate the changes in our lives.
While many of us are fearful of change, it is not only a part of life, but also a bridge that allows us to realize our dreams and aspirations. By being proactive and embracing change, we can increase the likelihood that it will lead to positive outcomes.