Helping children make positive transitions

Children living with their grandparents may face a lot of changes. Some changes are harder, such as when they must move from one home to another. Other changes are easier, but are still important to the child, such as returning from a visit with the parent. Having a routine and knowing what to expect are very important for a young child. Any change can be difficult for a child, and sometimes children react negatively before, during, or after a visit.While many things can cause negative behaviors, the changes involved in making a transition are often a reason.

Parents and grandparents need to work together for the child.The following list contains suggestions for helping children make positive transitions:1

• Try to keep the child's life as consistent as possible. Maintain similar routines, such as bedtime routines, nap schedules, mealtime and bathing routines.

• Have children wear similar clothing.

• Use comforting, familiar things that can be carried from one place to another, such as teddy bears, blankets, toys, or special photos.

• Use the same language, nicknames, and familiar words.

• Help the children keep their relationships with their brothers and sisters. Siblings provide an important sense of stability and support for any child. Brothers and sisters can talk about their troubles and relate to each other.

• Help the children maintain friendships.

• Make plans with the children so they have a sense that things will be okay.Take a trip or visit a friend. Explore things the children are interested in. Let them know they have some control over their future, no matter what happens to their mom or dad.

• Create a "lifebook"for the child. Making a lifebook helps the child remember what he or she has done.The book could contain:

S Pictures of loved ones (parents, siblings, grandparents, pets)

I Brief stories about what the child said and did

• Mementos of past and present events i Record of visits with parents a Record of special family outings

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