As he turned three this January, my first thought about the apple of my eye was “oh my gosh, this kid sure has been through more transitions than an average kid his age.”
I admit that as moms we tend to exaggerate our child’s experiences but I can’t stop myself from feeling super proud of him for being so good with this ‘thing’ called CHANGE.
As I pondered a bit deeper, I began to see patterns in his attitude and actions whenever he met with a transition — big or small — and in these patterns, I found some very valuable lessons, even for us adults:
Accept and internalize change.
Even with only the words ‘why’ and ‘what’ in his dictionary, a toddler can come up with a whole bunch of questions — and several hundred when he’s trying to comprehend what it means to move to a new home in another part of the world!
After we broke the news to him (and eye contact) meant more questions. Several why’s and what’s, tantrums, meltdowns, and a bit of bribing later he established that it’s just mommy, daddy, him and his plush doggie, “Scout,” that were making the move. That and he’s going to see snow. Lots of snow.
I’m quite sure he didn’t yet understand how big this was going to be for him. After all, he was moving away from being with an extended joint family in India, to just having his parents and Scout for company in the U.S. But, I saw signs of acceptance.
He participated in packing suitcases (even though for him it meant sitting in one!), picked out his stuff to take along, said his goodbyes, and promised to be a good boy through the journey.
He internalized change too — excited chatter in his limited vocabulary — about how he was going to make snow angels in his backyard!
COACH TIP: Be sure to communicate enough (as if there could ever be enough!) and give answers. Involve everyone who’s going to get impacted and most importantly, make yourself heard.
Surround yourself with the right people.
More big news of change came for my little man when we told him he was going to be a big brother.
To our surprise, he took it really well, and all through my pregnancy, he stayed involved in everything — from my morning yoga to taking sips from my green smoothie to decorating the nursery.
When his grandparents moved in to help us, he was quick to define the roles — who got to take him to the playground (or drop him off at daycare), who would serve him his meal, and most importantly, who would play ‘what’ during his pretend plays. By the time his little sister arrived (“his baby” as he called her), my little man cheerfully transitioned to his big brother status.
COACH TIP: Apart from being adept, the ‘right’ people will also cheer you on through the transition. Choose them wisely, ensure that the expectations are clearly laid out. Sometimes transitions may bring with them alterations in relationships, but there’s always scope to make it work — and maybe even on your own terms!
Stay focused on your priorities and allow for flexibility in the rest of your agenda.
Newborns can be very demanding and my attention was definitely unevenly divided, but my little boy got his way no matter what!
“I want mommy to read Five Little Monkeys to me today!” I could almost hear myself screaming, “Can it PLEASE be daddy?” But I gave in, just as I’d been giving in for the last 20-something days.
In almost all changing situations, I see him being rigid on his priorities. As a parent, it’s definitely annoying, but that’s him being focused. Once he notices that his focus has been acknowledged, he’d give me a pass when I ask to replace a long bath with a quick shower or eat some soup and bread in place of the pasta I’d promised him for dinner.
COACH TIP: Flexibility in your agenda allows you to get stuff done, seek help, and most importantly, keeps you sane. Having said that, it’s also important to lay down the non-negotiables, however hard that might be.
Give it time. Give it your all.
I often see that he takes his own time to understand the situation, take stock, ask questions, goes into a quiet zone, and then comes back with how he feels about it.
Take this for example:
Friday, 6:00 p.m.
“Ms. Megan says she’s not going to be our teacher anymore, but I want to stay back in her class.”
Me: “Honey, you’ve got to move to the big boy class.”
“But I don’t want to.”
Saturday, 10:17 a.m.
“Mommy, am I big boy now?”
Me: “Yes you are sweetheart.”
Saturday, 6:50 p.m.
“Mommy, are my friends going to be in the new class too?”
Me: “Of course! They’ll be there too.”
Sunday, 7:30 p.m.
“Goodnight, Mommy! Mommy, I’m going to go to my big boy class tomorrow!”
And before we know it, he gets in sync with his new teacher a hundred percent, and leaves no stone unturned in becoming the teacher’s pet!
COACH TIP: Once you go through a transition, give yourself time for the newness to sink in. Also, once you’re in it, give it all you’ve got to make it successful.
Remember, change is the only constant in life.
So stay engaged, stay inclusive, and OWN the change.
I’ve always seen my boy, open and willing to change, he accepts it with open arms and a happy heart — and insists on taking pictures at every opportunity!
COACH TIP: You’ll always be met with changing situations, some may even be transformative, but with each transition, there’s an immense opportunity to grow and live a fuller life.
Document and/or journal as you move along in your journey, and it will serve as a great reference for you in the future.
Go ahead and embrace change as it comes, with open arms and a happy heart!