As July becomes August, how do we prepare our children for a leaf’s change of color and summer gradually, becoming fall? The marking of the end of vacation can be framed as a wonderful beginning of something new and exciting. How we frame what is to come is so important. If we are present and mindful, preparing our kids in small increments for change, we are on the right track. It’s difficult to let go of one experience for another but the more we can be calm, loving, respectful of who each of our children are and what they need for preparing themselves for change, the better transitioning will go. We need to offer benevolent authority, being good role models and setting good boundaries for our children for them to accept and embrace change…returning to Fall and school.
Taking my daily walk around our high school track and field, I couldn’t help but notice a family exemplifying what good transitioning and having a great time in the process looks like.
Mom is running around the track, tall and sleek, fast and self-confident. Dad was with their 2 boys, 4 and 6 years old. Dad did push-ups, first alone, then with his younger son on his back, and in time, with his older son. Next Father and his two sons took turns, throwing first a volley ball and then a football. Now it was time for the three of them to focus on Dad’s second hand timer, which was counting how long it would take for Mom to pass them on her run, while remembering to root loudly, praising Mom’s feat.
Soon this family would be getting ready to pick up their things to leave. Somehow, the older boy grabbed a shoe and was taunting his younger brother with it. Frustration mounted and the 4 year old, hit his brother on the arm. With Mom’s nodding approval, Dad calmly, responded to say, “We don’t hit. Work it out.”
Yes, Dad might have missed some bullying, but my sense is Mom or Dad would attend to any misbehavior in time.
I recognized in this family, before my eyes, so much love, support, and giggles of fun. I also was aware of all the moment-to-moment transitioning that was occurring for each member.
The parents were so in sync, therefore, most of the time, so were the boys. It’s worth mentioning the friction occurred, transitioning off the field to the car.
The boys were learning all about exercise, praise, handling frustration and having rules and communication that was fluid, just like Mom’s running.
So, how do we transition our children to bigger changes?
We model for them and we are mindful of demonstrating good planning from small to bigger changes. We take time to enjoy our children, to play with them when they are young and support their separating and playing in the world, knowing we’ve done our best, including not being PERFECT.
We also show them how we refuel, time for enjoying reading a book, going out with our spouses, being with family and friends.
So, now I’m transitioning from writing to listening. Lots to think about and share another time.
Deborah Saunders, LCSW is a medical social worker and psychotherapist, seeing patients/families in her Mt. Kisco and New York offices.
She specializes in helping parents and children with emotional regulation and executive function challenges.