Children and adults undergo transition. It signals the change from one stage to another stage. And knowing these transitions may help you to understand the difficulties your baby / child is undergoing. As the baby is not yet capable of communicating well, so it best to know the symptoms of change.
Here are the stages that you as a parent should look out for with your baby, toddlers and small child:
8 Signifacant Transitions From Baby to Older Child are outlined here and the possible affects and benefits if properly nurtured as it is where the child starts forging the confidence that is reflected later on on his/her adult life :
- Weaning babies From Breastfeeding – There are different debates on breastfeeding babies – for how long and if should be fully breast milk or mixed with formula. Several breastfeeding advocates would say breastmilk only is best for babies until two years old. Other moms who have difficulties in putting out enough milk have mixed their breastmilk with formula. Also some would contend that breastfeeding is quite difficult and tedious especially for the working mothers. We do not want to make judgement here however we would like to point out that whether you are fully breastfeeding or mixed, you will eventually make the transition in weaning your baby away from your nipple to the feeding bottle. Some babies may have difficulty coping in times of weaning and parents may notice changes in their sleeping pattern or changes in their mood. This is also around the time wherein your baby grows its first teeth signalling that it will be ready to start eating solid foods. Be mindful when you introduce first day of starting the solid food. If your baby is irritable at that day, this will surely affect his/her mood on trying out new solid food. Some babies may lose their appetite or some might gain extra weight if the milk diet is replaced too early.
Playing at meal time can often help diffuse the tension or irritation – remember ‘here comes the aeroplane’. One should take motivation by showing them you taste the food first and your facial expression to boot. If your baby is hesitant to try the new food, you can try putting at the tip of the tongue a very small portion of the food. This is also called tip and touch approach. This is proven and tested baby weaning technique for trying out new food.
The parent should support the child during any transition period to overcome his/her anxiety by using calm and soothing voice, constant eye contact and comfort to reassure.
- Losing the Comforter . The comforter does not just pertain to the blanket but also to other comforting things and objects that makes the baby feel secured. These includes pacifiers, thumb-sucking, teddy bears or favorite pillows. The pacifier sort of gives the child a soothing effect and you as a parent should reassure and comfort your child by being there during sleeptime until he/she have understood that it needs to go. Weaning out of it can cause trauma in a child if it is not well taken care of.
- From Crawling to Two Feet. This is one of the most dramatic transition phases in the life of the child. It signals development from baby to toddler stage and gives the child a sense of independence. This child is also afforded to view the world differently- from viewing the world around them at a lower position (crawling) and now seeing everything using their limbs and seeing it all in upright position. Be prepared as your child will be more curious and will try to get hold of anything within their grasp. Speed is one thing they will discover and surely, before you know it, they will be running. As parents, you have to support them in their exploration, keep their interests and encourage them to use their senses more – but keep them safe. You will quickly learn how far those little hands can reach and little legs can climb.
- Moving to a Bigger Bed – A baby who started sleeping in the crib will have to make an adjustment in the sleeping arrangement. This might cause discomfort at first and might disrupt thier sleeping. And when baby’s sleep is disrupted then expect a very bad morning after. However to some, this transition can also make other babies happier. But most react badly so when babies realize the changes, give them extra support by constant reassurance. You might even have to sleep beside them to give that assurance and to regain the healthy sleeping routines.
- Move From Using Diapers to Using the Toilet – Potty training is one of the most anticipated transitions of the baby to a toddler. Diapers or nappies offer reassurance both for parents and the child and changing this can cause stress for both parties. There are children who undergo this transition effortlessly with minimal support, for others it entails hard work. This transition phase can boost confidence but also can demoralize self-esteem. There are kids who have difficulty in understanding the signs of needing the toilet and it can cause accidents and the events such as accidental pooing. This event especially for a pre-schooler’s time is dreaded and feared.
- Starting Preschool or Nursery. Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby authored the the Attachment theory and according to this framework, anxiety is too much to bear for children who are not used to their parents leaving them with strangers. Separation can be a very upsetting and it can shatter confidence of the child. If not well-handled and often repeated, this can cause lasting negativity and will make them to withdraw and regress. For children who are also undergoing potty training alongside this change, they may wet their bed and become more aggressive and clingy. This is the time where support and reassurance is much needed. As for leaving them in the nursery, at the onset you give your reassurance and try to be with them on their fun activities. For nursery carers and teachers, it is important also that parents should leave numbers to be contacted in case of emergency. This support and coordination between nursery teachers and parents are crucial to form the child’s independence and for them to develop the capacity to face separation and to understand they can control their learning and emotions.
- Moving Schools or Joining New Classes. This is one of the most dreaded transitions as children forge friendships in schools. Transferring to a new one means new faces and unknown personalities. Not properly handling this situation especially moving to a new school will impact on the child’s confidence. It is in schools where the child will develop his or her interpersonal skills, socialization and communication with other children of his/her age. This is also where negotiation skills and sharing of resources are learned. But if the child is continuously changing or transferring schools, this ability can be hindered. Whilst there are gregarious children who can easily adapt such as those children with travelling parents, most of the cases in research show that children will be very anxious. If you are the teacher in the preschool, indicators are frequency of toilet use by the child. Studies show that the child who is anxious tends to urinate more or drink more frequently and can also feel nausea and nervousness. Aggressiveness and being confrontational or regression should also be noted. This should be addressed immediately because when it stays longer, the child’s self-esteem will be compromised.
- Losing Milk Teeth. This losing teeth signals growing up can cause both excitement and concern. Studies show that the cultural symbol of introducing the”tooth fairy”. This gives support to the child at this phase of pain, swollen gums and sore mouth. The tooth fairy is a world-wide folklore wherein the child has to put underneath the pillow his/her lost teeth and it will be bargained for something either for a “fee” like chocolates. In some areas, parents even sprinkles glitter to give an illusion of the fairy dust left behind. Gaining a new tooth can also be awkward and can cause discomfort.
We have all been through these transitions stages when we were young. These are the natural sequence of development and as parents, we are expected to take responsibility to assist in the smooth transition. Childhood is a crucial stage of forming the concepts of self, right and wrong, sharing and caring, self esteem and confidence and of course knowing they have the very crucial support from their parents and carers.