Four Steps to Make Transitions Easier for You and the Kids!
Your kids are having so much fun at the park, but it’s almost dinnertime and you need to leave. What happens when they start whining, crying, and refusing to go? Sometimes transitioning from one activity to another is stressful for children. Having a plan will make those transitions less of a battle.
Four Easy Steps to Make Transitions Easier
- Priming: Using Interactive Indicators
Priming means letting your child know “when” the transition will happen. Using a physical timer is a great way to let your child understand that time is running out. However, priming does not have to be a set number of minutes. You can end the activity after a number of turns on the slide, or after reading a certain chapter in a book, or even by holding your fingers up so they can see that time is running out. These are called interactive indicators.
Explaining “What” the child should expect includes what will be happening next and what behavior you expect from them. To be effective and avoid confusion, the “What” must be clear and positive.
For example; “After you finish your next turn on the slide, it will be time to have dinner. When you’re done, we will say goodbye to your friends and head home.”
TOP TIP: When explaining your intentions, make sure your child understands what is going to happen next by asking them to repeat the steps.
The conversation might look like this:
Parent: How many more turns do you get?
Child: Two more.
Parent: That’s right. And then what are we going to do?
Child: Turn off the iPad and put it on the shelf so we can eat dinner.
Parent: Awesome, I am really proud of you!
Choices allow children to feel in charge and develop decision making skills. Let’s face it, adults always have final say, so why not turn this on its head and let your child give it a go? Giving them a “forced choice” is giving them the option to do the next activity the way they want. For example, your child needs to sit down for dinner, which chair do they want to sit in?
TOP TIP: Sometimes choices can be boring. Adding fun words like “cool” or “silly” advertises the available options, “Do you want to use this cool blue pencil or the one with the silly monster on top?”
How often do you express how proud you are of your child? Verbal praise during every step of a transition, big or small, makes doing any task more fun, lets them know they are on the right track and boosts their self-esteem. Compliment their behavior, and praise their decision-making
“Great job for listening and coming back on time!”
“Thank you for clearing up the picnic blanket, I’m so proud of you!”
- Follow Through
One of the biggest mistakes when it comes to transitions is when parents don’t follow through on their transition plan. It’s a recipe for ongoing failure if you don’t hold your own. A great follow through helps your child learn that problem behaviors will not change the outcome of a transition. It also reminds them that you mean what you say, and there are always opportunities for fun when they follow directions.