Toddlers can have a very difficult time with transitions. Check out today’s video below for tips on how to deal:View Transcript
Dana: Hi, I’m Dana. Welcome to this week’s video. Today I want to talk a little bit about toddler transitions. I get a lot of emails from parents wondering what to do when they have to leave the house, they have to leave the play date, they have to leave the birthday party, and their toddler has a complete meltdown every single time.
That’s pretty common. It has a lot to do with toddlers being very intense little people. They’re also really figuring out where their will lies and where yours begins. They’re expressing their displeasure over the fact that you have to leave or go or move or move on. Right?
Transitions are hard for any child. I taught grade one for a number of years. I found that even six and seven year olds had problems with transition, moving from one task to another, putting away that, lining up at the door. All of these things caused upset. I’m going to give you a few tips here today for helping smooth out the transition.
First of all, you want to give a warning. You always want to warn the child that a transition is coming. That will help. Not that your toddler will specifically understand how long a minute is, but if you say, “In two minutes we are going to be going home,” or, “We’re going to have to put this away,” or, “It’s time for lunch,” at least they have some knowledge that something different is going to happen soon. OK? Once you’ve given the warning, then you can move on to the transition.
I do find that setting timers is so helpful. If you know me, you know I talk about timers all the time. I find that having a little signal that isn’t you really helps with the transition. Because it’s not just you saying, “It’s time to go, now.” It’s now the bell’s fault that it’s time to go. It puts a little distance between you and this rule that “We have to go now.” The toddler seems to respond a bit better to the bell than he will to you.
However, he still may not, even with the warning and even with the bell to indicate “Time’s up.” He still might have a fit.
I can remember getting my middle son out of the bathtub. Every time, he would have a fit. We had a little song that we would sing, my older son and I, about the baby not liking it. [laughs] But he had to get out of the tub. It really didn’t matter. We could do it the easy way and he could get out in a happy mood. We could do it the hard way and he would get out crying, but you do have to move through it. Right?
You can’t give in to a tantrum or a fit because then your child will quickly learn, “Oh. All I have to do to get out of this is throw a fit.” That is certainly not something anyone wants to be teaching their child. So, you can’t give in. It might mean, yes, you have to pick up your sobbing child and walk out the door with him kicking and screaming.
The good news is that this is short term. This is a response to displeasure, a response to anger, and a lot of toddlers express that for a short period of time through physical upsettedness, crying, kicking, screaming, throwing themselves on the floor, going limp in your arms to try to get out of it. You just have to move through it.
You can try some distraction. I find that it’s really helpful with toddler behavior in just about everything. If you have a snack you’re going to be giving in the car, you can distract him with that idea or a toy that he really loves that gets to come out when you get to the car, Anything that could be a little bit of a reward incentive to put your toys away and get in the car or leave the party or say goodbye. That can really help, too, with transitions.
Warning, a timer, and do it anyway. That’s my advice. Thanks so much for watching today. Sleep well.
Transcription by CastingWords
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