Updated: Sep 20, 2021
Congratulations, your child has achieved yet another milestone! The transition from Kindergarten to primary school can be challenging for your little one, but with some support, you can set them up for success! When you think about it, your child is constantly transitioning. From going to school to arriving home, to playtime, dinner time, and going to sleep.
Sometimes you'll find your child doesn't want to put their toys away or get ready for bed. They may fuss and throw a tantrum and these transitions may be frustrating and induce anxiety that leads to other challenging behaviors when they are not addressed.
Here are three things you can ask to access if your child is struggling with transitions:
Does your child repeat patterns of behavior that are interfering with learning or engagement in social interactions with their peers and/or adults?
Do you try to correct your child's behaviors using developmentally appropriate guidance like re-directing their attention and find that it does not work?
Does your child have prolonged tantrums, display physical and verbal aggression, have disruptive behaviors (e.g., screaming, stereotypy), destruction, self-injury, noncompliance, and withdrawal?
If you've answered yes to any of the above questions then it is likely that you've also looked to your child's teachers or other parents for advice. If you still haven't found a concrete solution to getting your little one to transition smoothly, then Play Therapy could be the answer! We break down why!
Why are transitions difficult?
Your little one can have difficulty with transitions for a number of reasons, they could be tired, hungry, confused, or just simply not ready to end an activity they're doing. Difficulty with transitions is also common when children have communication delays, limited social and emotional skills. By considering children’s needs and abilities and planning accordingly, parents can avoid problems at transition times. A lot of successful transitioning has to do with your child's ability to emotionally regulate.
As Play Therapists we often encourage parents to put themselves in their children’s shoes and look at the world from their child's point of view as they consider how to show their children what to do (“We need to pack your school bag with these books”); and how to prepare their children for what comes next (“You'll have a timetable, and you'll different things at different times and that's okay!.”).
How Play Therapy helps.
Play Therapy in essence gives your child the necessary skills to be emotionally regulated and manage transitions smoothly. It generally also fills a wide gap in therapy services for young children. Through "Play" your child's therapist equips them with a precious toolkit to be successful at transitions. They are able to connect with your child and reinforce how your child puts in effort in dealing with their emotions appropriately. Emotional intelligence requires children to use a part of their brain that is still developing. Your child does not have all the "equipment" needed to control their impulses, identify their emotions, and express their emotions.
The home environment is the primary influence in shaping the way we respond to things. When a Play Therapist works with your child, they empower them to build on ways to handle their emotions well. It is effective with tangible results that have allowed children to make massive strides in their emotional and behavioral development crucial in managing tough transitions like the one your child is about to make from Kindergarten to Primary School!