When a young child moves from one stage to another many changes take place in regards to his emotional and physical development. These changes are called as Transitions.
These transitions are very individual and are an essential part of growing up. It is very important to understand a child on socio-emotional grounds and to recognize the impact of all sorts of transitions that they go through. So, it becomes necessary for the parents and care givers to plan the transitions thoughtfully to get a smoother and more beneficial outcome. How we cope with children during their early transition period, will have the greatest effect on their long term emotional development and their ability to deal with life’s challenges.
Some of the common transitions that a child experience universally are- eating habits (from milk to solids), physical movements (crawling to walking), from being fed to expect them to eat themselves, toilet trainings, self awareness, going to school, meeting new people and exposure to new environments etc. Some additional transitions include a new child in the family, violence, parent’s separation, and new parent, some serious illness, death in the family, and moving from one place to another etc.
Some examples of Experience of Transitions-
All the transitions come to the child with challenges. The child can not go through these transitions alone. He needs to be supported by parents or care givers. However the experiencing to go through a transition depends upon the kind of response and support he/she gets. How a child handles transitions at later stages of his life greatly depends on his/her early experiences of transitions.
Let’s see this example: Peter tries to take his first steps. Sometimes he stumbles and pulls down the table cloth or smashing some glasses or cups. His mother shouts at him “you silly boy, what a mess you have made, bad boy”. Peter starts crying and he is also reluctant to try walking again for the next few days.
If this negative response is repeated regularly at home, then Peter’s transition from crawling stage to walking stage can be delayed severely. He may also loose confidence and may be unwilling to attempt further transitions.
Let’s take one more example; Annie is trying to hold a spoon for the first time. Food is spilling everywhere. Her sister is laughing at her, so Annie learns that when she tries to put some porridge up to her mouth, it brings a big smile on her sister’s face. Mother could get upset at elder sister and with Annie also but she smiles gently and encourages her further. So we can see that Annie is in the right direction. When Annie gets it right, her mother and sister both, give her lots of smiles and praise.
When a child makes a mistake and he receives a warm, firm and consistent response, the child will feel the transition phase with positive rewards, having more confidence and having a deep and trusting relationship with important members around him/her. But much damage could be done to a child if his/her feelings are not responded to in some serious and unexpected transitions, such as separation of parents, or death of some close family member etc. Every transition provides a new challenge to the child. He already is in the process of collecting experiences and based on this mind set he uses his body of experiences to assess the new challenge.
Transitional objects:Any object which symbolizes home life, parents or other things in a family is known as transitional objects. The young child may use some soft toy to cuddle, or suck a thumb. Some children try to cling to the care givers or teachers. The older child may use a firmer grasp of being emotionally secured and safe inside without holding any objects.
To sum up, every child faces transitions with a variety of experiences. Some may be negative and some may be positive. They seem to be always anxious to the new situations. As adults we should make it sure to give a sensitive response which brings them through the positive transition experiences which lead to a stringer and more confident individual.