Life Skills for All Ages

Life Skill: Coping with Changes and Transitions

Young Children (preschool)

  • Whenever possible, give children plenty of notice that a change is going to occur. This may be saying something as simple as “Billy, in five minutes it will be time to pick up your toys so we can go to the grocery store.”
  • Allow young children to carry a transition or comfort object with them. This may be a stuffed animal, favorite blanket, or picture.

Elementary Children

  • familieschangeFor bigger changes, such as moving to a new house or having a new baby in the family, reading children’s books about similar changes and talking about them can help young children learn about what is going to happen. You can find books at your local library. A book called Families Change: A Book for Children Experiencing Termination of Parental Rights by Julie Nelson gives caregivers additional tips and resources at the end of the story. Available through the National Resource Center for Youth Services catalog.
  • Role play upcoming changes. This will allow the child to think about possible outcomes and practice dealing with those outcomes.
  • Enourage the child to write a story about a change she has or will experience. Talk with the child about her story. You can answer questions she has and correct any misinformation.

Adolescents & Young Adults

  • Adolescents and young adults are very aware of their thoughts and feelings about changes and the transition process. Use these cards from Fostering Transitions to facilitate a discussion about their feelings and experiences.
  • fighting tigers and stress really gets on your nervesTeach adolescents and young adults relaxation techniques they can use. Examples of techniques include deep breathing, visualization, and muscle relaxation. Books such as Fighting Invisible Tigers: Stress Management for Teens by Earl Hipp and Stress Can Really Get on Your Nerves by Trevor Romain and Elizabeth Verdick have more information about such techniques.




  • The National Resource Center for Youth Services has additional resources for sale that may be helpful when talking with young people about changes and transitions. Check them out!
    • if anybody asks meIf Anybody Asks Me… by Larry Eckert
      If Anybody Asks Me...provides over 1,001 questions that give youth ages 12-18 an opportunity to make some decisions—quite possibly for the first time—about a wide range of crucial yet everyday issues confronted by today’s adolescents. This handy, portable list of useful questions to be used by group leaders is bound to stir lively thinking, discussion, and debate. Available through the National Resource Center for Youth Services catalog.



    • It's T Time: Transition Planning KitIt’s T Time: Transition Planning Kit: The T Time Toolkit helps caseworkers and other team members assist youth in preparing for a successful transition into adulthood. Available through the National Resource Center for Youth Services catalog.




  • Call on your support system. Adults deal with a variety of feelings during changes and transitions. Talking with your family and friends can be helpful as you work to take care of yourself while caring for children and youth.