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We are almost at the end of another school year. I don’t know about children you know, but Michael is usually all over the place at this time of year. It is easier to talk to him about it now that he is able to communicate better. He will show his anxiety by asking about what teacher he will have next year, about where his summer camp will be taking place. Even something like his first soccer game will make him nervous/excited. All normal emotions. It’s a new soccer team for him, so we went to check out the park and have talked about it being at night instead of during the day, and like how he has to eat an earlier dinner that day at 5:30 pm instead of 6:00 or 6:30 pm. These are little things, but if we do not discuss them I know they pile up and his anxiety gets worse.
As adults, we have these anxieties as well when we have to go to new places or do things that are not familiar to us. Preparation, planning. and talking them through with others or using our own strategies can go a long way to helping ease the transition. With our children the same techniques work.
I have found these 5 techniques work best to help your Exceptional Child navigate transitions:
- Talk about and draw on a dry-erase board: The combination of both these two things in advance, will give your child the chance to digest that a change is coming.
- Go visit the future place and get familiar: This works well for summer camp, a new sports team at a new location, and even a new school.
- Remind your child that it is normal to be nervous: This sounds counterproductive, but really it is a good technique. Remind them that everyone gets nervous about change and new things. All you can do is breathe and prepare the best you can.
- Model change being exciting: This has been trickier for me, as I am not one who loves change myself, but over the years I have learned to see the adventure of doing new things, becoming stronger and wiser, and have been passing it on to Michael.
- Get enough sleep and eat well: This probably belonged at number 1. As hard as it is, keep the dinner and bedtime routine as consistent as possible, so that your child is in good shape to try out the other tips with you.
Exceptional Parents, what tips do you use with your Exceptional Children? What have they taught you about navigating change? I have learned how to more resilient, calmer as I know I am Michael’s port. When I have failed, I have used the phrase that a teacher at school once uttered, “we can still turn this around.” And this is what I now use as my model. The important thing is to practice these techniques yourself, be consistent, and your child will pick up from you on what they can do. Until next time.