Toddlers are a sight to behold when they’re doing something they enjoy. They take an amazing amount of pleasure from some of the simplest things, whether it’s splashing around in the tub, playing peek-a-boo, or whatever activity they’ve gotten themselves into for the moment.
The downside, of course, is that when it’s time to leave or change up whatever they’re into, they can get pretty upset about it.
Today, I’ll give you some tips for managing those little transitions from playtime to dinnertime, or bathtime to bedtime, with a minimal amount of fuss and resistance.Rather read than watch? Click here.
Some kids, they’re easy breezy, you say it’s time to go, no big deal, they get up, they go. Other kids, not so much.
I can tell you as a grade one teacher I learned very quickly that some kids need help managing transitions.
Now a transition can be anything really, time to put your toys away, time to go for lunch, time to leave the party, time to leave the park, right. Anything that’s basically changing from one location to the next, or one task to the next. Some children need help with that. That little transition period can throw some kids off big time. So I’m gonna give you a few tips here today.
If you’ve got a child, where you’re thinkin’ yeah, actually, he needs a little help with that. Now kids who struggle with transitions do better if they know ahead of time what is happening. So everyday in my classroom on the board is a list of everything we’re doing that day, what time it’s occurring, what’s happening next. They do better with that because they have time to process, I know we do that, and then we do this, and then we’re gonna do that. So they’re already getting ready for it.
So if you’ve got little ones that aren’t in school yet, what you could do, is put, you know I’ve got magnetic fridge, or a bulletin board somewhere, put up the tasks of your day. You could draw little pictures to help them associate what the words mean. And you might go over it with them and say listen, we’re gonna have our breakfast, and then we’re going to story time at the library, and then we’re doing this, so that they have an idea, okay I get it. Then it’s nap time, then we do this. So they have some knowledge of what’s happening.
So that’s step one. Step two is to give them lots of warning time before you transition. Now for some kids, they only need two or three minute warnings. But for some kids, they need 10 or 15 minutes of warning. My middle son, I’ll often, you know, half an hour before it’s time to start getting ready for bed, I’m dropping these hints to him, right, so he can get his mind around the idea that soon we’re gonna transition into that.
If we’re getting ready to go somewhere, my other two children need five minutes to get themselves ready. With Angus I know I need to give him at least 20 minutes to feel prepared and ready to leave the house when I want to. So that’s my responsibility to know that about him, and to help him manage this transition better.
So test it out. Try two or five minutes, if that leads to a fit, then maybe try 10 or 15 minutes. You know if you’re at a party, just start saying, you know we’re going to be leaving this party in 15 minutes. And then five minutes later, just want you to remember, we’re going to be leaving this party in 10 minutes so that they have time to process.
If you have a child who really throws a fit when it’s time to go, a good idea would to put some sort of reward incentive in place. You know we’re going to be leaving the party in 15 minutes. If you leave in a cooperative way when we get to the car I will give you a blank. Alright, I’ll give you a little toy, I’ll give you a little treat, whatever you want to plant as a reward. And that just gives them a little bit of motivation to try to manage their feelings even though they’re upset that they don’t wanna leave.
You can also say to them, it’s fine to say I don’t want to leave. Right, that’s a way of them expressing their displeasure that they have to leave in a more appropriate way. Are you still gonna leave? Yeah, but at least you’re giving them an outlet to say, I don’t want to, if I had my way we wouldn’t, but I understand we’re leaving and so here we go.
Alright so that’s another great way to keep it positive, right, give them lots of time for transitions. But sometimes, right, when you’re in a rush, they just have to happen. And so be careful that you don’t drag them out too long because you don’t want your child to know that the longer I stall, and the longer I fuss, the longer this takes, I don’t have to go.
Make sure you stick to your commitment. If you’ve said 15 minutes, make sure that it’s 15 minutes and not 45 minutes later so that they understand that there’s some expectations around this, some consequence and reward.
Thanks so much for watching today. Sleep well.
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