Helping Children With Transitions
It is about the time of year when parents start to think about their children going back to school. Many parents look forward to getting their kids back to a routine, but some parents view this transition as a time of anxiety, and even fear. Almost every child complains about the end of summer and returning back to school, but some children find this transition extremely challenging. They may be going to a new school where they are worried about navigating the building or making new friends. They may be worried about bullies, or strict teachers, or difficult subjects. And some children have specific learning or emotional problems that make the start of a school year particularly challenging. Of course some children have no difficulty at all with transitions. They breeze through challenges with ease, and rarely fret about things that could go wrong. We refer to these children as "resilient", because they are so good at working out their problems, no matter how serious. Many scientists believe that there is a "gene" for resiliency, and that some children are born with emotional and behavioral skills that make them naturally more resilient than others. According to this theory, children who tend to worry and fret when faced with a problem may have a genetic pre-disposition that makes certain childhood transitions more difficult. But the good news is that if your child has difficulty with transitions, he or she can learn emotional and behavioral skills that can make him more resilient. And the even better news is that once these skills are learned, they will last a lifetime. The emotional skills that make a child more resilient make up what we refer to as "emotional intelligence". Just as the intelligence we measure with standardized tests is made up of certain cognitive skills (such as short and long term memory, reasoning, mathematical ability, and so on), emotional intelligence is made up of a set of what we often call "people" skills, including the ability to talk about one's feelings, optimism, self-control, self-calming, and interpersonal problem solving. These last two skills, self-calming and interpersonal problem solving, are perhaps the most important behaviors that distinguish anxious children from their more resilient peers. Self-calming is exactly what it sounds like—the ability to keep one's emotions in check and approach problems, real or imaginary, with confidence and reason. Interpersonal problem solving is the ability to see alternative ways to handle social situations, particularly conflicts with others. Both self-calming and interpersonal problem solving skills are easy to teach to children. For an easy exercise to help your children develop these skills, please visit www.littlepicklepress.blogspot.com.