Do you like surprises? Some people do. Some do not. Most who don’t like surprises have some difficulty with self-consciousness, being the center of attention, or losing control. Others have had a bad experience with surprises and the memory lingers.
Transitions are not necessarily surprises. In fact, most transitions are very normal. However, we can even be thrown off our game by normal, expected transitions.
For school children, normal daily transitions include from asleep to awake, from home to school, from classroom to connections or lunch, from school to home, and from awake back to asleep. Sounds like normal stuff, but the issues most children will find often occur around or because of these and other, unexpected changes.
Eight year old Joey was a bear to get up in the morning. Every day mom felt like she was wrestling an alligator. She started being pleasant and low-key. “Hey, fella. It’s another glorious day. The sun is shining and your friends are waiting to say ‘hi’ to you at the bus stop. Let’s get some good breakfast and you can be on your way.”
Every morning, mom started out being pleasant, but Joey will have none of it. “Awww, ma. Just a few more minutes. I promise I will get up then.” And the battle begins. Some days Joey complies. Other day’s mom resorts to yelling and threatening.
For mornings and other transitions for your children, consider giving them a 5 to 10 minute heads up. First, in a quiet time away from transitions, talk to your child about how transitions are going. Active listen his feelings about change and share your frustrations with helping him adapt. Conclude with, “Sooo, looks like we have a problem and neither one of us likes how this has been going. Any suggestions?”
The “heads up” rule is a universal starting point. Adjust bed time and awakening time to account for the extra 5 to 10 minutes transition. Minimize conflict by pre-planning. For example, help him get school clothes and book bag ready the night before. Make decisions about breakfast with input the night before. Smooth out other potential wrinkles ahead of time to allow for an easy transition. Finally, mark out a trial period for all of the changes and identify reward and consequence based on your child’s efforts and response.
Transitions can be tough, but the “heads up” rule can help them go better for all of you.
You remember vividly when each of your children were born. For moms, there is pain in childbirth. Don’t let anyone convince you that it’s just pressure J. However, this pain of childbirth is immediately thereafter replaced by the sheer joy of holding your newborn, nestling in your arms. For dads, I remember feeling awed, thrilled, and terrified. A definite OMG moment. When my baby looked up at me, I knew she was a keeper.
What new parents don’t realize is that all babies, no matter what the circumstances, are born with an invisible sign hanging around their necks. I call it the IALAC sign, I-A-L-A-C, which is an acronym for “I am loved and cared for.” Each baby feels that love as they emerge from the womb. While lots of other emotions surround the birth, love is the predominant one. The IALAC sign remains, hidden but there, around our necks as we grow older.
And yet, life events can chip away at our IALAC sign. Little 3 year old Julie got yelled at after accidentally knocking over her mom’s favorite lamp. It shattered on the ground. Ten year old Bobby didn’t get much playing time with his rec league basketball team. When he asked his coach, he was told that the team was winning and he wasn’t good enough to beat out the starters. Amanda, a 15 year old high school freshman, tearfully showed her failing history test score to her dad. He said abruptly, “Well, sweetheart, you should have studied harder.”
At those moments, when this kind of stuff happens in our lives, a little piece of our IALAC sign gets torn away. Soon enough, the original sign can disappear all together. However, because we all must wear an IALAC sign throughout our lives, a new sign will appear. We were born with “I am loved and cared for.” Difficult events coupled with unkind words re-works our sign to now read “I am lonely and confused.” The kinds of caring, Christian parenting, communication tools I offer through my book and classes helps our children maintain their “I am loved and cared for” sign, even when our children make their way through the stress and strain of life. What message is your child getting from their IALAC sign?