I took my older daughter shopping yesterday for school clothes. She's an in-and-out kind of shopper. She knows what she wants, and if the store doesn't have it, she wants to move on. We did a lot of moving on yesterday. After three hours of shopping, we had exactly two pairs of shorts and two shirts. Lucky for my daughter, this week is only a two-day school week.
My daughter has grown nearly three inches since the spring. Very little in her closet that's appropriate for school still fits. Shorts that worked in the spring are too short now. Several of the T-shirts in her drawer barely cover her belly button. She has to have new school clothes.
Shopping for her was so difficult because not only does she strongly dislike glitter and rhinestones (which seem to be on EVERYTHING this fall), she's stuck in that place where she's too big for kids' clothes but too small for juniors, which leaves an extremely limited selection of items from which to choose. For a kid who dislikes shopping, having to try on everything just to find a piece or two that fits is torture.
Our shopping trip reminded me that though my daughters are growing up quickly, there are going to be moments when they're stuck in the awkward places, mired in the muck of transition. Whether it's middle school, starting school, or simply moving from one grade to the next, every transition has its difficult moments.
So, with school starting for most of us in the next month, let's focus on how we can make those difficult moments of transition a little bit easier for our kids.
- Prepare your kids for change. The worst thing I can do for either of my daughters is to not warn them that change is coming. When your child is faced with a transition, get them ready. Do what you can to make them comfortable. If that means you take them to school a day early to check the place out, then do that. If it means you learn everything you can about a new place, do that. If it means you have them talk to someone who has done what they are going to do, then do that.
- Cover the change in prayer. Nothing we do for our kids is as effective as praying for them as they make transitions. While we can't see every pitfall, every worry, and every triumph, God can. He can lead our kids through a transition -- even a difficult one -- much better than we can. James 5:16 says "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."
- Hold onto your perspective. It's easy for us to get emotional when our kids are faced with change. As our kids grow, it's easy to let our emotions overrun the situation. But when our kids are already emotional, throwing our emotions into the mix simply makes the situation more volatile. When your child is struggling with a transition, try to keep your emotions on an even keel -- at least in front of your child -- so that they feel like you think this transition is going to go well.
- Find something good in the situation. Change is scary. Not knowing what lies around the curve can cause anxiety. Help your kids find something to look forward to during the time of transition. If they're moving to a new school, help your child focus on an activity or sport that the new school offers that the old one didn't. Giving your child something good to focus on helps to alleviate a lot of the stress of the situation because you've already helped him decide that the situation isn't all bad.
- Send your kids into a transition with a smile. Whether it's a funny note in their lunch or a joke you told as they walked out the door, help your kids start their day with laughter. Nothing sends worry running like a smile or a laugh.
Change isn't easy for anyone. For whatever reason, we're hard wired to resist change. But change isn't always bad. Growing up is a good thing. It's not always easy for our kids to recognize that, though, which is why it's so important for us to help our kids through the difficult moments of transition.
As you embark on your school year, remember that even if your child is caught in a season of transition, learning to deal with change helps them to grow. Keep them covered with your prayers and help them through this season. They'll come out on the other side stronger and wiser.
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