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Supporting Transitions to Secondary School (and Adolescence)

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

If your child is transitioning into senior school this September you may notice there have been some mixed feelings about moving on. With any major life changes children (and adults) experience a degree of apprehension; when it comes to transitioning into senior school some children may be feeling the loss of old teachers and friends as well as the familiarity of their old school. They may be feeling worried about navigating their way round a new environment and finding new classrooms, or getting used to new teachers, different rules and expectations. Very often children struggle to put into words how they’re feeling. At this age their responses reflect their developmental stage as well as their developing personalities and uniqueness. Because each child’s temperament, resiliency, and prior experience vary, transitions will affect them in different ways we might see this worry played out through their behaviour instead.

How do Children Feel about Change?

It is completely normal for you child to feel worried about transitions. Children feel safer within the boundaries of structure, routine and familiarity so naturally they may wobble in times of change. However, this is also an opportunity for growth psychologically in terms of resilience, self-belief, self-worth and confidence. Our role is to guide them through this process.

As well as adapting to a new school environment and developing new relationships children are dealing with many physical and psychological changes that adolescence brings. There is a lot going on in terms of brain development which means the higher functioning “thinking” parts of the brain are still very much “under construction” so children may struggle to adapt and settle initially as they may be unable to think logically and rationally, this is further impeded when under stress.

"Helping children feel safe and secure and can turn transitions into learning experiences that support children’s growth and development in all domains".

Signs your Child might be Struggling

Your child may well exhibit one or more of these symptoms at any given time during adolescence, so be mindful of what might be out of character or unusual for them rather than taking any one sign that something is wrong:

  • Frequent negative self-talk/negative self-appraisal

  • Feeling lonely and sad

  • Withdrawal from family/current friends/previously enjoyed activities

  • Snappy/irritable/ angry easily (emotionally driven behaviour)

  • Physical complaints and ailments

How can you Support a Child through Transition
  • Keep them socially connected with friends

  • Encourage them to build new friendships

  • Support emotional and physical health and wellbeing by being willing to listen

  • Look after you! This may feel like an emotional time for you too so get some support if you need it,

Is your child showing signs of anxiety about moving on to senior school?

Heading off to senior school isn't the only transition children have to navigate, at the same time they are figuring out a new school environment they are also working their way through adolescence and that can be difficult for some children. Everyone moves through these times at their own pace but if you are concerned and want to be able to support them through these tricky times why not take advantage of my 30 minute Transitioning Into Adolescence webinar which delves further into this topic offering in-depth practical advice and tips on how to support your child through transitions, understanding adolescent brain development and what to do if you have concerns about their mental health.

Only £10

Follow @rootspsychology across social media to get more tips and support for you and your child.
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