• Blog
  • May 27th, 2012

Change is Hard! Successful Transitioning

The end of school, at every level, marks a significant transition for all parents and students. The transition from spring to summer is a seasonal change, as well as the end of the school year, and is also a transition from a structured schedule to a new or different structure and schedule, and increased demands and expectations at the next level.

In transition, most children “regress” before they “progress.” Therefore, “acting out” behavior is common when children are about to make a developmental leap forward. For instance, a Senior graduating from high school may engage in a ritualized Senior prank, which actually is a statement of DEVALUATION of the current environment (high school), as well as a REGRESSION to an omnipotent terrible two-year old state of “You can’t make me do anything.”

Adults commonly act out and regress when confronted with change or transition. An employee with five years of experience in a professional position, when moving to a new and more challenging promotion in another company or corporation, may decide the day before they terminate to tell their supervisor everything ‘wrong’ with their supervisory efforts, as well as the many things they don’t like about the company’s policies regarding employees. This is an example of both DEVALUATION and REGRESSION.

With children, it is important to recognize both regression and devaluation in the process of transition, in order to facilitate the process of PROGRESSION. Following are some useful tips for parents of students in transition.

1. Recognize when your child is “regressing” and meet the regression by providing and assisting the child with their current and basic needs. For example, “I don’t want to study for my exam tomorrow, and you can’t make me.” Parent response: “I know it is so hard to do. Can I make you some macaroni and cheese?” Meet the regressive tendency and provide empathy.
2. Recognize the natural tendency to devalue the current environment and relationships within it. Try not to join the student in this process. “I hate high school and especially my math teacher, who wants me to do extra credit work for my missed assignments.” This is a common sign of devaluation. Try not to join the student, and instead, assist them in meeting expectations.
3. Say goodbye well. Send a note with the child’s signature to the math teacher, thanking him or her for the opportunity to complete extra credit work. Show up, shake hands, and express gratitude for a job well done. Put together a party or outing for your child and their peers to wrap up the year and celebrate a successful completion and ending.

Recognizing that our natural tendency to regress and devalue in the transition process in a mindful and conscious manner is imperative. Empathically meeting the dependency needs of children in transition without devaluing the current environment is essential to successfully navigating a progression to the next step.

I wish you a successful transition from spring to summer!

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My Services

In my private practice, I provide psychotherapy for individuals, couples, and families. I also provide parent consultation, assessment, parenting skills, and discipline techniques, as well as determining whether individual, group, or family therapy would be beneficial.

In addition, my co-facilitator Robert Rowland and I provide groups for adolescents and young adults.

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From Theory into Practice: Combining Experiential and Talk Group Psychotherapy for Adolescents

http://www.austinamft.org/2014/02/interview-with-mark-white-lcsw-lmft/ Mark White, LCSW, LMFT, is a seasoned group and family psychotherapist who has worked in private practice in the Austin area for over 25 years. He presented at the February meeting of the Austin Chapter of the Texas Association for Marriage and Family Therapy on both the theory of group psychotherapy with families, specifically adolescent boys, […]

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