This morning I was one among many parents who waved goodbye as my oldest boarded a day camp-bound bus for the first time. I got less than five hours of sleep last night because I had a crazy case of the butterflies, but my son got on the bus with a confident smile. Whether it's a new camp, a move, a trip, or an event, I have worked really hard to ease transitions for our family and stolen good ideas wherever I find them. Here are a few of our strategies:
- Talk it up! Speak about the new experience with enthusiasm and get kids excited. Make the potentially scary stuff sound like as big and awesome a deal as the fun stuff. My son was apprehensive about riding the bus alone but eager to swim and play basketball, so we talked about all of those things in terms of him being bigger and ready for new adventures.
- Introduce the change in advance but not too early. You need to know your kid. In our experience a few weeks is perfect. Using a calendar where you cross of the days and count down is a good visual support for kids who are still hammering out their concept of time, dates, and days of the week.
- Get help from the other side. Our camp does great prep work to ease transitions; the counselors sent postcards introducing themselves, so the kids got the thrill of receiving mail and knowing their counselors' names in advance. Whenever we travel to visit friends or family I will ask them to send a postcard to the kids in anticipation of our arrival.
- Set expectations with a story. We love the Comic Life app and have used it to prep for big kid furniture, a new school, and a trip to the dentist with great success. Use your own photographs whenever possible, or source images online.
What's in your bag of tricks for successful transitions?
(Image: Roni Shapira Ben-Yoseph)