Parenting Vivian | 03 Sep 2010 03:26 am

Transition Time Made Easy

Transition creates stress.

It could be a headline of a family handbook.
We have whole companies who specialize in how to handle change in the business world.
But we are still surprised when change, transitions create stress in families.

I go on trips to get the word out about The Parent Program regularly.
When I get back, my wife and daughter have found their own easy rhythm. They have one on one time and have found the balance by the time I get back. All of a sudden we go from 1 interaction (between them) to 1+1+1 and also one where we are all together. This change impacts their little peace! And after the first happy moments, we can get irritated at each other for the smallest things. Transition time!

All families deal with transitions.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a tow parent, single parent or blended many parent family!
You have transition times during every day. From kids leaving from school, a parent coming back from work to returns from sleep overs, school camps and more.

It is natural that some are easier than others, but all are moments where adjustments are made.
Realizing the impact on everyone makes it easier to prevent unnecessary conflicts or over-heated situations.
If you have a child (or partner) who doesn’t deal with change easily it can be necessary to prepare them for every change that happens.

In families dealing with divorce, or in situations where other have part of the care for children like foster care, these transition moments can be even more highly charged.
And of course they are! Dealing with “the other parent” and the changes in parenting style, the emotions you and you kids go through, it all is highly stressful.

What you can do.

1. Know yourself and your kids/partners
Think about who is more affected by changes and which ones. Think about the specific especially charged situations in your family. Make a list of those moments and think about what is different about each. And what the same. Find the trigger points in which one or all tend to blow up, get irritated or withdraw into silence, their room etc.

2. Talk about it.
Talk about those moments and that it is normal for each of you to be affected by changes and each differently. Because you are all different. Think together about tricks, techniques you can use to help each other in those situations.
For one it can be to let them fume, without reacting, for another it can be playing a board game to get them out of a bad mood, or have them do something physical to get the energy out.
Include yourself and you own needs in these moments, because your mood affects everyone too!

3. Structure it as much as you can to prevent surprises and conflicts.
By knowing how things will go, kids – and you- are better prepared to deal with changes, transitions and the impact they can have.
If you have frequent transitions structure and consistency, in how you deal with them, will help everyone, but especially those who have a hard time with change.
The structure then becomes the consistent factor that helps them. (And if it doesn’t go to plan they will likely balk at that part instead of a person directly. A little one may react “We always get my coat first and then we put on my boots” An adult may fall over that “you are later than agreed”)
You can structure what is acceptable behavior and what not as well. So everyone knows what is ok and what not when the moment comes.

4. Expect emotions and deal with them kindly.
Emotions and charged reactions are part of transitions. When you see them as waves that come and go, and are ok, you can let them wash through yourself and your kids. So they can come and go. By having taken steps 1-3 you are prepared to deal with them well. Accept them.
You can signal your kids when they step over boundaries you have set for acceptable behavior in their own emotions. They can let it out without hurting others.
And know that whether others are aware or not, they deal with the same process.
So take a deep breath and be kind. It will help you, your kids and all of you in the next round of transitions that come!

In my family we now know that we react to the changes and that we will get irritated for no good reason at some point. We try to stop ourselves from jumping on issues (even if we are right!)
and give each other some breathing room to adjust to the new situation.

It makes it easier for me to leave on trips too, now I know that we will find a way to make it easier for each other. And that it is not “my fault” for interrupting their nice get-together!

Transition times and change are unavoidable.

But you can make them easier.
And by doing so, you teach your children a very valuable lesson in life.

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