How to Guide Children and Teens Through Life’s Transitions

How to Guide Children and Teens Through Life’s Transitions

Change is inevitable and not always easy. Transitions or any disruption to the normal routine can be difficult to cope with at any age, but can be especially challenging for children. Moving homes, starting or changing to a new school, divorce and separation, and losing a loved one such as grandparent, are all transitions children may eventually face. As parents, we can give children the tools they need to cope with major life changes and strengthen their skills to face future challenges.

As we go through life and changes, we develop skills and coping mechanisms that help navigate these types of experiences. Children who are new to major life changes have not had the opportunity to strengthen these skills and may need additional help in addressing their feelings and understanding and adjusting to change. Fears, anxieties and suffering from the “what ifs” can present themselves at any age and are common prior to the change, during the transition, and afterwards while adjusting. These feelings can be reduced or prevented with the following tips:

  • Listen and validate feelings
  • Remind children of past wins and accomplishments
  • Read books about changes
  • Maintain a routine as much as possible
  • Offer choices when available
  • Give them time to both prepare and adjust

With older children and teenagers, it is important to have open and mature conversations about changes they may be experiencing and how they can overcome them. While setting the groundwork for open communication starts at a young age, it is essential to keep communication open and positive through the teenage years. Parents and teenagers may not always agree, but maintaining interest and showing that you care should be present in all conversations.

At any age, walking through the change or transition with your children prior to it happening is another way to help children prepare. For example, if changing to a new school is making your child anxious, walk through the new schedule with them. During the conversation, look out for specific scenarios that might be bothering them. Are they concerned with navigating a new building? Have difficulties making new friends? Or anxious over being away from you? Once their primary concerns are identified, it is easier to address them with your children and give them the tools they need to cope.

Seeking out the fun in a change is another way to help your children be more comfortable with the transition. This can be as simple as identifying a place for a favorite toy in a new home or discussing extracurricular activities available at a new school.

Change can be challenging, but with the right tools, children can not only learn to manage transitions, but can thrive in them.

Living Well Counseling Center in Tinton Falls offers individualized therapy to men and women ages fifteen and older. If you need help guiding a child through a life change, or have a teenager who is struggling to cope, get in touch today.

TELEPHONE: (732) 440-9330



55 N Gilbert St., Suite #3202
Tinton Falls, NJ 07701

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