How Transitions May Affect Children and Young Peoples Behaviour and Development

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As mentioned in question 3. 1 transitions are an essential part of a child and young persons development. These changes within a child or young persons life may be gradual or sudden. They present the child/young person with challenges which they must overcome. Transitions are stressful for children and young people, just as they are for adults, and the resulting stress can have far-reaching effects on children’s emotional well being and academic achievements. How a child or young person deals with transitions is greatly affected by the support and response children get from those around them.

A child’s early experiences of transitions will have a big impact on how they handle transitions at later stages of life. As some changes of transitions are not anticipated, they can cause distress and feelings of lack of control in the child or young person. This can affect emotional and behavioural development, in turn leading to possible impacts on physiological and intellectual development. The transitions that children and young people face can be: Emotional: affected by personal experiences, for example bereavement or the divorce or separation of parents Physical: moving to a new home, class or school

Intellectual: moving from one type of organisation to another, for example from nursery to school, primary school to secondary school, secondary school to college or college to university Physiological: going through puberty or a long-term medical condition. One main transition within a child’s life is changing schools. This can make children feel insecure, nervous and anxious about the unknown. Whilst they may feel some sense of excitement about the new experiences they will be exposed too they will generally be apprehensive.

They may be leaving behind good friends, loved teachers, a great support network and may feel a huge sense of loss. Their behaviour may change, they may become withdrawn and emotional. They may recede academically as they struggle to fit in to new surroundings. Younger children may become clingy and baby like. Older children may begin habits such as nail biting and become moody and irritable and have sleepless nights. In more extreme cases children may begin to self harm. To support children and young people at this time of change schools will have a transitions policy.

The policy will aim to help pupils settle as quickly as possible and minimise difficulties or concerns. Schools will hold open days and question and answer sessions for new students. This will give children the opportunity to talk about what’s going to happen and prepare for it. Schools may also implement a buddy system or assign a teaching assistant to those pupils who require additional support. Puberty is another large transition in a young persons life. These physical, psychological and emotional changes signal a child is moving from childhood to adolescence.

For some children this is positive transition, they are growing up, maturing. For some it may be seen negatively, making them stand out from their peers. Physical transitions such as puberty happen at different times for different people and can create a feeling of being left out or ‘different’ to others. Early puberty can mean looking like and being treated as an adult while still feeling the same inside. The opposite can also happen if an individual develops later than others in their peer group.

Puberty can greatly impact upon a child’s development and behaviour. Children may receive unwanted attention, get teased by their peers. They may become withdrawn and moody as they loose control of what is happening to their bodies. Their behaviour may alter, a once confident child may feel awkward and embarrassed and feel singled out, different from the rest of their peers. Children may regress academically as they struggle to focus in class and may withdraw from social activities as a means of escaping teasing/bullying.

They may not want to take part in physical activities, not wanting to change in front of their peers and may become uncommunicative within the classroom for fear of drawing attention to themselves. The good thing about transitions is they are just that. They are a period of change. Although some periods of change will last longer than others they wont last forever. Children and young people must always be given the opportunity to discuss concerns and issues. As long as a child feels supported within the home environment and the classroom they can move through many transitions in a positive way.

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