Last night I attended a Workshop at my son’s school entitled ‘Transition 101’, aimed at providing parents with children entering Senior School with some valuable insights as to what can be expected.

First up I must recognise the members of staff who presented this very worthwhile Workshop, in such a well-balanced and well thought out manner. The Workshop ran for 90 ‘short’ minutes, including Q&A. 

Apart from feeling better prepared for what lies ahead, I also gained a much better understanding of Adolescence, more importantly the 3 stages of Adolescence.

· EA, Early Adolescence (Ages 6 to 11)

· MA, Mid Adolescence (Ages 12 to 16)

· LA, Late Adolescence (Ages 16+)

(*Note the age ranges are not ‘a one size’ fits all parameter; more a guideline or reference point).

During EA, your child is getting to grips with their ‘Normality’, mainly concerned with the question, ‘Am I normal’?

During MA, your child is getting to grips with their ‘Fit’, mainly concerned with the question, ‘Who am I’?

During LA, your child is getting to grips with their ‘Vocation’, mainly concerned with the question, ‘Where am I going’?

As with all developmental processes, whenever ‘questions’ are being asked, there is corresponding Anxiety.

We parents were then shown a slide with a centre circle or hub with the word Transition written in it. Radiating off this hub were not 6, not 10, but 14 spokes, each with their own bubble, with their own developmental process included!

Now it was my turn to become ANXIOUS!

FOURTEEN transitional development stages that will be awakening within our carefree, fun-filled, joy to behold son, commencing late January 2020!!

Fortunately, the Dean of Students could read our combined anxious wrigglings, setting our minds at ease, albeit slightly, by recommending the following 5 strategies which would assist us in managing the 14 stages:

· Technology Management: Where, when, how? 

· Know your child’s schedule: Timetable, homework, assessments.

· Focus on their ‘Staying Organised’ skills: Diaries, planners, reminders.

· Make sure they get plenty of sleep: Physical and Mental development demands it!

· ‘Stay Connected’: Engage by listening and following up. Not always school related!

I certainly came away with the clear understanding that the Transitional tasks that lay ahead all revolve around management of Adolescence combined with managing Anxiety.

Reflecting on my experiences as an 11-year-old, entering Secondary School back in the UK, I do not recall any awareness of the terms Adolescent nor the serious mental health condition of Anxiety. However, I do recall suffering from both, the latter definitely more than the former.

To my knowledge, my parents were not consciously aware of the ‘14 development stages’ associated with transitioning from Primary to Secondary school. 

As for the ‘5 Strategies’, they relied purely on expected norms for parents of that day, being focus on making sure homework is done, (i.e. No TV, albeit only in Black and White), uniforms and hair in good order, with lights out at 9.00pm! NO QUESTION!

Now as I reflect on my own adult experiences with Anxiety and traumas with Depression, I can see how the seeds of anxiety sown in these most formative of years in my mental development, manifested themselves, with dramatic effect, in my mid-forties!

We have come a long way! We needed to come a long way!

As I have always made clear, I am not a healthcare professional, nor a qualified psychologist, however I am someone who has experienced immense anxiety with the associated mid-life clinical depression…but more than that, I am a SURVIVOR!

All I ask is that you take from this Blog, is the message of Hope!

We are so very fortunate to have amazing National Organisations such as Beyond Blue, Black Dog Institute, RUOK?, Gotch4life, Lifeline and Headspace, to provide awareness, education, focus and above all tangible support, to anyone and everyone who is brave enough to connect with them, either as someone who is anxious themselves, or who knows someone who is displaying signs of anxiety.

Links to these organisations are set out below, please be brave, please do the right thing!

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