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19 S. Cameron Street, Winchester VA

Family Transitions

When you think of Family Transitions you are probably thinking about divorce, but there is more to it than that.  When it comes to your children and teens, there are several different types of transitions that may have an effect on them and may have you thinking about counseling.  Divorce is one big family transition, so is remarriage (having a new step-parent), even moving to a new state, neighborhood or school.  All of these will impact your child or teen, you never know how they will take it and what, if any, impacts it will have on their mental and emotional well-being.


The first thing to remember is that any transition is going to be stressful on your child or teen.  There are an infinite number of ways to be a family, and there is no one right or wrong way to be one.  Child-focused studies have pointed to the importance of family problem-solving, communication, flexibility, truthfulness, hope, family time and routine, social support, and health will help foster resilience in your child and teen.


Whether it is divorce or a new person moving into the home your child or teen will have many things running through their mind.


  • Closeness with a stranger.  They are now living with someone they don’t know so there are times they will feel uncomfortable in their own house.

  • Conditional caring.  A sense that if their step-parent doesn’t like how they act they may not love them.

  • The end of reunion fantasies.  By getting remarried, you end any fantasy your child may have of you and your ex reuniting.

  • Less attention to go around.  Your child may feel that now you won’t have as much time for them or that there is competition for your time and your love.



Here are some signs you may see that mean your child or teen is not dealing with the transition well (these will be symptoms that are new to them, your child or teen may not have):


  • Problems with eating or sleeping (potentially with recurring nightmares)
  • Excessive difficulties with separation from you
  • Moodiness, depression or anxiety
  • Physical complaints with no distinguishable cause (such as headaches or stomach aches) that don’t go away or come back often
  • Changes in school – grades sliding, getting in trouble
  • Extreme or unrealistic fears/phobias
  • Decrease in self-esteem
  • Excessive weight loss or weight gain
  • Aggressive behaviors toward self or others (such as biting, hitting, or scratching)
  • Risky or acting out behaviors (behaviors that can have life-altering consequences)
  • Constant rudeness and “talking back”
  • Drinking or drug use
  • Stealing
  • Excessive lying
  • The appearance of obsessive or compulsive rituals (such as hand washing or pulling out hair)
  • Preoccupation with death or the wish to die (If your child expresses a feeling that life is not worth living, get help right away, take them to the emergency room, do not take it upon yourself to determine if this is a “real” or “serious” problem.)




How can you help your child?  There is no particular treatment for adjusting to change, but several different tactics may be helpful. Talking about changes in life with a therapist may help your child/teen cope with the transition they are going through.  If you know that your child/teen does not cope well with change, speaking with a therapist before any significant changes in life occur may be warranted.  In this way, one can prepare for changes and become better able to face them in the future, even without prior knowledge of potential changes.  Support groups and group therapy sessions also might benefit some children/teens who have experienced a particular type of change, speaking with others their age who have gone through similar experiences can help them know they are not alone.


At CPC, we offer individual and group sessions to help children and teens going through difficult transitions.  We are here to help support them through the transition and help them find ways to cope.  We also work with the parents (and everyone involved in the child’s life) to ensure everyone is aware of how the child is feeling and how everyone can support them and make the transition better for everyone.



Cameron Pediatric Counseling, Inc.


19 S. Cameron Street, Winchester VA

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