Monday, February 6, 2012

Students and Families in Transition

Students and Families in Transition
Ideas for Parents
  • Provide your children with information about the whole process of transition; the typical phases and common experiences associated with each. Help them prepare for their transition by consciously participating in their leave-taking.
  • Remember: leave-taking impacts not only the person leaving but also those staying behind.
  • Expect mobility to impact your child's development. Young children, for example, may regress in their speech after a move and may need extra nurturing. Adolescents, typically in the process of moving away from their families and out into the world with their peers, may regress to a new familial closeness after losing peer group through moving.
  • Separate in your own mind the inevitable difficulties of childhood development (such as puberty) from those of an international move. Don't blame every problem on their international-mobile lives.
  • Remember that your children learn from you. If you try to take away their pain or sense of loss, to hide your own sadness at someone's departure, they will try to do so too. Symptoms of unresolved grief and stress may be headaches, stomach aches, disturbed sleep patterns and sense of paralysis. Older children may express a lot of anger towards others in their environment. Help to work the energy out through physical exercise, art work, creative writing.
  • Children will often try to protect their parents and not say what is going on with them. Trusted teachers or other school personnel may have more success than parents in drawing out and addressing fears, hopes and concerns.
  • Talk to your child about the fact that as they disengage from their various activities and loosen ties with friends, those friends will also be disengaging from them. Whether your child is departing or staying, help them to work through feelings of rejection, resentment, sadness or guilt. Acknowledging such feelings is more effective than ignoring them.
  • Be aware that children may create conflict with their friends in an attempt to lessen the pain of loss when one of them is about to move. Support both the departing child and the staying-behind child in building healthier leave-taking skills. Remind them to build a RAFT: Reconciling conflict with others; Affirming the relationships they have had; saying Farewell to people, places, pets and possessions; and Thinking ahead by gathering information about their new host country.
  • Be sure to give your child concrete information about the events preceding the move -- why the family is moving, when the movers are coming, whether the family will stay in a hotel pre-departure or post-arrival, the actual date of departure, when the family is expected in the new place, whether they will wear uniforms at the new school, etc.
  • Remind departing children to identify their "sacred objects"...those few items, which remind them of home, family and friendship wherever they are. Suggest that they take those objects with them on the plane instead of including them in the household shipment. Having these "portable roots" with them when they first arrive in their new country can ease the chaos of transition.
  • Create "goodbye rituals." Making memory books, painting and a signing t-shirt, compiling photograph albums, taping video memoirs, planting a tree...these are all tools for acknowledging relationships and for helping children to say goodbye consciously.
  • Encourage your child to mend all relationships before leaving. The baggage of unfinished business and unresolved conflicts will slow down the smooth transitions in to the new setting.

Transition: passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another:
CHANGE: Movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another.
Transition and change are constant, natural and unavoidable elements of life. We all experience transition. How and to what degree they affect us is a matter of choice.
Choice of perception is ours...resistance creates problems and acceptance creates harmony. Give new experience a chance, make the best of new situations and always emphasize the positive.
RAFT : A structure for support to help transport from one place to another. (General definition)
R.A.F.T. (Acronym)
R.A.F.T. can be a structure to help people in experiencing change move through a period of transition.

R. Reconciliation: unfinished interpersonal business. To restore to friendship or harmony. To check with another for accuracy. To make closure. To bring disagreements to an end and patch up an ongoing or long-term feud.

A. Affirmations: positive statements regarding upcoming change or transition. Make positive statements that express the way you would like things to be in all areas of your new life. Say what you want, not what you don't want.

F. Farewells: saying good-bye. Make sure you take the time to say an official good-bye to people, places, pets, possessions or anything that has been an important part of your life. Start early so omissions are not made.
T. Think Home: Start thinking about your new home. What positive expectations do you have? Start getting yourself excited. Task: taking care of tasks is also part of thinking about your new home. Do the work of moving. Take care of the tasks. Packing, cleaning, organizing and many other tasks are an integral part of moving. Building your R.A.F.T. is also one of your tasks.
Like anything else in your life....the more you put into something, the more that you get out of it.

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