Little changes to adults can often feel like big changes to kids. When children experience a change or transition to a new school, childcare center or even just a change in their routine it can feel overwhelming. It is important for young children who often don’t have the words for these feelings to feel secure in their new environment, but that can take a little time. When these changes occur it can be difficult on everyone and often makes separation in the morning a challenge.
Here are a couple of strategies that have worked for my kiddos and the kids I have worked with handle these common challenges.
- Establish a consistent routine.
- Create a visual daily calendar with your child. Talk to your child’s teacher and ask what the routine is throughout the day. Take pictures and create a timeline of the day so your child knows when she will get to see you for pick up. Every morning go over the daily timeline… if your schedule changes be sure to move the pictures around to fit when you will be at pick up.
- Send in a “transitional’ object with your child. It is important for your child to have something special from home that she can keep with her. If you have the time, paint an “our love is rock solid” stone so the child can hold onto it or put in their pocket.
- Send in a “love note” for nap time so your child is reminded that you think of them often throughout the day.
- Talk with your child about what strengths he will use to give him positive “self-talk” so he can continue to go back to that strength when faced with future transitions and changes.
- Read books that promote connection. I love Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. I would switch the names around so they matched up to my kids. I would get requests to read the “Baby Owl” book over and over!
- Listen to songs that promote strong social emotional growth and help with separation. In our house, I Keep A Kiss in My Pocket by Growing Sound is a big hit, here is the link to listen:
Remember changes can be real time of stress for your little one however with simple strategies and a supportive and empathetic adult he will get through it! As your child gets through this transition the next ones will get easier and easier!
Sarah Zawaly has been working with young children, parents and teachers for a number of years in multiple capacities; teacher, therapist, preschool consultant, and coach. She has her MSW and is currently working at Children Inc. in the Innovation Lab.