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  • Writer's pictureDandelion Education


Change can be scary.

I’m the Tree-Grip-Nibbler, some call me squirrel.

I have lived here, in Dandelion’s haven, for many years; I have been witness to many changes: natural, forced, positive, negative; my feelings have ranged from sheer glee to fear, sometimes all at once!

Change can be exhausting!

The Long-Leg-Guardians of the woodland say that these feelings are all normal, but that we must prepare for change, and be aware of the impact this can have on our mental health and well-being.

Dandelion’s Long-Leg-Guardians are wise and skilled; they nurture and support the Short-Leg-Explorers, who can be very sensitive to change. The Long Legs tell me we must manage transitions between changes sensitively and that knowledge of potential changes can be empowering. They say that we must understand that changes are normal, but a switch as small as an aspect of a daily routine can be as impactful as a house move, attending a new nursery, or the arrival of a new sibling.

I have been unsettled by change myself in the past; the transitions between changes were not sensitively managed: like the time we changed our acorn hiding place, and I wasn’t told until it had happened; the time when my favourite tree was cut down by a High Tree Tender and I didn’t know until I went to play there, and only a hole remained.

I was distressed , frightened, anxious.

My behavior changed; I regressed; I was angry and sad all at once.

I didn’t want to leave my nest; I didn’t want to leave my family to play, for fear that they might be gone when I returned. My confidence and sense of security had been replaced with a fear that I had no words to express. I had become so distressed that my attachments became insecure; the ground I scampered across was sponge and air beneath my feet.

Bear-Bouncing-Bean, who some call Emma, comforted me. She told me that she would make sure to discuss, in an age appropriate way, potential changes with me; she would try to make only one change at a time. She said that Dandelion makes adaptations for Short Leg Explorers so they support transitions more effectively. Dandelion Long-Legs, she said, know about attachment, the impact of transitions, and anxiety.

Lion-Hair-Hawk, who some call Hayley, reminded me that sometimes, however, we can’t plan for change; sometimes the nature of life means that more than one thing has to change at once; this may be beyond our control.

To support this eventuality, she said that the Long-Leg-Guardians help us to develop cognitive flexibility and resilience, so that we can manage change without feeling that the ground has shifted and we are adrift, so that we meet change but know that this change does not mean our whole world has changed. They do this by making very small changes to routines ,such as: changing snack choices; using a democratic voting system for book choices; offering the Short Leg Explorers choices so they can create change for themselves; moving ‘areas’ around the site; discussing differences, similarities, and change in philosophy, and more…

Because the Long-Leg-Guardians keep me informed of changes; discuss my feelings when changes are occurring; give me extra cuddles when I need them; and accept that I may be wobbly when change occurs, I feel more secure, and can meet change with my old confidence and my attachments intact.

I now know that change and transitions can be scary, that change is inevitable, and that sometimes it is beyond our control; but I also know that while some things change, some will stay the same.

It is time now for another change, as the new year begins, and Dandelion readies itself for a tribe of new Short-Leg-Explorers. The Long-Legs will introduce themselves to you, you will see films and photographs of your new play home, you will make new friends and begin a new part of your life story.

Change can be scary, but the Long-Leg-Guardians will be here to hold your hands and will be your firm ground until you find your own.

See you soon my Short-Leg-Explorers,

Happy 2022,

Your Tree Grip Nibbler xxx

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