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Helping Your Child to Deal with Change

Fall marks the beginning of many new things both for our children and for us. Starting something new always means change and all of us respond to change differently. Many of us welcome it but many of us are filled with apprehension and fear. Many of your children will be starting elementary school for the very first time. Others will be starting preschool for the first time and others will be carrying on in elementary school but in a new grade with different expectations and more than likely a new teacher.

Starting school or starting a new grade is exciting but also can be frightening because we don't know what to expect. Many preschoolers will be separating from us for the first time. Some children separate easily while others have a difficult time with separation and need lots of time to ease into a new situation. It's important for us to be sensitive to what our children are going through as they enter a world that is completely new to them. Remember, every child is a unique individual. I remember when my son started Grade 1 and he suddenly realized he had to be there all day. I had a week of having to coax him back into the classroom with the teacher's help. I remember him saying to me while we were standing outside the school: "Grade 1 takes too long!!" We of course got past that once he started feeling comfortable with his teacher and new friends.

Prior to starting school for the first time, whether it is preschool or elementary school, it helps if children can become familiar with the building and the surrounding neighborhood before their first day. You might mark the day on a calendar for them and cross days off as the start time approaches. We need to be careful that we don't create too much of a build up nor do we want to suggest to them that they might be frightened the first day.

How we respond to change and new situations teaches our children either to approach new experiences with excitement or with heightened anxiety. Some of you may be starting a new job or going back to school yourself. Fear of the unknown is usually a predominant theme in our anticipation of new beginnings, which is normal. How we respond to our fear is what's important. Do we allow it to block us from moving forward or do we allow ourselves to face it and experience the reward at the other end? Do we find ourselves dwelling on the "what if this happens or that happens" or do we approach the new situation with optimism? When it comes to change, what kind of role model do you want to be for your children.

Barbara Desmarais is a Parenting and Life Coach who has worked with parents for over 16 years. She is the mother of 2 teenageres and twin adult step-sons. She coaches parents privately helping them to find solutions to their parenting challenges. She also is a workshop and conference presenter addressing topics related to parenting.

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