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Supporting children and young people with transition and change

Our lives are full of change. Big changes, little changes; some are positive and some are negative changes, and these can deeply and profoundly affect our children.

Further information

In this challenging time of COVID-19, our children and young people are having to deal with more change than any of us could ever have imagined. Nearly every experience is something new and unfamiliar to them. Some children have an easier time coping with uncertainty, but, for others, the experience can cause anxiety and uncertainty. Even positive change can be stressful.

Here is a list of Top 10 tips for helping children cope with transitions and change during this complicated time. Another excellent resource for schools by the Leicestershire Educational Psychology Service for supporting primary to secondary transition.

Returning to school after Covid-19 restrictions are lifted

As with adults, the current situation around Covid-19 has imposed a significant and often stressful change for children and young people. Most of us will be familiar with the feeling of wanting things to ‘get back to normal’.

However, all models of change show us that ‘normal’ is constantly evolving, and following recent events returning to school is likely to create apprehension for children, parents/carers and teachers alike.

The good news is that, unlike going in to the ‘lockdown’, parents/carers and children are likely to get some warning of the change involved in coming out of it.

How can parents/carers and teachers help?

  • Recognise that each child will have the full range of emotions at the prospect of returning to school.
  • Understand that each child will experience things differently. All feelings are to be expected and no feelings are bad feelings.
    • Allow the child to express how they feel without judgement or model this for them, for example, ‘I think you are feeling (insert here what you think the child is feeling)’.
  • Listen to and address their concerns with as much clarity as possible.
  • Involve them in getting their uniform and equipment ready well in advance.
  • Preparing a written-out timetable may also help, particularly if children will be returning part-time and/or childcare around the school day may be something they have not been recently used to.

As with all change, expect behaviours to reflect emotions the child or young person may not be able to identify or express. These behaviours could include;

  • Resistance to home rules/instructions.
  • Withdrawing and being less communicative.
  • Increase in arguments.
  • Sleep disturbance / Increase or start in bedwetting.
  • Change in appetite.

Many of our children are due to make some big transitions during this period. In the absence of regular school support at this time, it is important that we continue to support the strong feelings that children and young people may be experiencing about change and transition.

Please use the following links for specific advice and resources to support the particular transition your child or young person is facing:

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