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Back to School: Positive Life Transitions

Posted on: August 3rd, 2016

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”

Albert Einstein

As we come to the last month of the lazy fun filled days of summer I began to notice the sunrise a little later, the sunset a little sooner and thoughts of the new school year beginning. As a parent this time of year is a time of transition and preparation. Some transitions may include starting a new grade, new school or beginning your freshman year in college. We all are diligent in becoming organized, purchasing supplies, completing the necessary documents, and purchasing the just right clothes or uniforms. In the hurried pace this time of year can bring, I pause to consider how we process transition emotionally. These times of transition can create feelings of excitement as well as anxiety and fear for both student and parent. How then do we move forward with balance into the inevitability of life transitions?  I have 4 suggestions that may help:

  1. Be honest about your fears or concerns. Take an honest look at how you view transitions in order to confront beliefs that may be hindering you from moving forward confidently. It’s ok to say I am nervous about this change. It’s beneficial for parents to encourage their children to speak honestly about their fears. Putting on a brave face and ignoring the presence of fear can often lead to greater anxiety. Fear is like a bully when you confront it you often realize it’s not as menacing as you once perceived.
  2. Replace fear and anxiety with hope and optimism. The new experiences that transitions bring can be wonderfully exciting. Transition ushers in growth much like the caterpillar as it transitions to a beautiful butterfly. Unlike fear and anxiety that can paralyze, viewing transition through the lens of hope and optimism can make the process much more of an adventure to be valued. I often practice this by adding what I call a “but” statement after my verbalized fear. For example, I may say I am concerned or fearful that my child won’t make friends at his new school, but I know he has made friends in the past and this experience will help him learn the life skill of making friends in a new environment.
  3. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. With change comes the possibility of miscalculations. The ability to recognize mistakes can happen contributes to our ability to be resilient when we face challenges. Mistakes do not mean failure. Mistakes are part of our human experience. The goal of transition is to continue moving forward and not become stuck in regret.
  4. Finally, take a moment to reflect on how far you have come. I often remind myself to take a moment and review the process that brought me to a certain point. Many others like me may have a tendency to look forward to the next goal in the future instead of simply enjoying the present. Reflection can create a sense of gratefulness and confidence that can in turn create more personal peace in the transition process.

Ultimately transition is inevitable. We have no choice in the matter. We do however have a choice to embrace transition as a wonderful adventure filled with hope for the future. Have a wonderful adventure!

Author – Alicia Lurry