Does your child struggle with transitions?
If your child is at all like my kids, a simple “pick one more thing to do before we go” might just not work.
So what to do?
Here are my tips for helping!
Start with a heads up
This is a great starting point. If it is all your child needs–great! If so, just give your child a heads 5-10 minutes before you have to move on to something new.
With my son’s sensory issues, talking about an activity ahead of time is major.
If I spring anything on him without a heads up, it will cause a meltdown.
But if he knows ahead of time what to expect, then his brain gets a chance to process those changes before they actually take place.
For spirited or autistic children, just one “heads up” won’t cut it.
Remember, they are young children, so they forget things! Especially if they are in the middle of something fun.
The #1 thing that works with my son is pointing to a clock.
“When the big hand gets to the 4, we need to leave.”
If the big hand (minute hand) was at the 2 when I first said that though, I point out the clock 3-4 more times before it even gets to the 4.
Those constant reminders are not annoying (per se) to children. They honestly do forget, so have patience and just remind them!
This isn’t necessarily bribing, (even though that sometimes has to take place).
No, this is different, and it works best with older children. My 18 month old doesn’t quite grasp it yet.
For example, when I’m getting my son to bed and he is struggling I ask, “what is something fun you want to do tomorrow? Go to the park? Great idea! Now, before we can go to the park though, you need to fall asleep. But if you fall asleep quickly, we will play and have fun when you wake up!”
Does this work 100% of the time?
No. What does with kids?
But it makes a difference. Going to bed or doing something new doesn’t feel like a punishment when there is something great coming later.
Give choices when possible
A toddler is a lot like an adult. They have their own ideas and ways of doing things, and don’t like to be told otherwise. Unfortunately for them though, they don’t often get a choice.
So offer choices when you can!
“Felicity, it is time to go eat. Do you want a yogurt or some grapes?”
You are giving the choices, so hopefully they end up choosing something you want. But since they are given the autonomy to choose, children are often more willing to change what they’re doing since it ends up being something they want too.
And something that they chose themselves!
Get on their level
Children who have autism or sensory processing disorder literally don’t hear you sometimes when you’re talking to them.
They frequently experience hyper-focus when working on an activity they enjoy, so just calling out reminders, even frequent ones, might not do the trick.
Instead, get down on their level and make eye contact. Pause the activity and make sure they hear you. Or else it will end up being as if you didn’t give them a heads up to begin with.
Take into account time of day
If you know your child struggles right before naps or bedtime, give a little extra patience. Children experience the same range of emotions as adults, but often don’t know how to regulate you them.
Because of that, they can (and probably will) lash out when you take away something they like.
Please try to remember what they have experienced that day, and take into account how they might be feeling.
Has it been a busy sensory day?
Have they already had a lot of transitions?
Are they hungry or tired?
Those, as well as other reasons, could all explain a child’s negative reaction to a change. So plan accordingly.
Create a schedule
If you’re able to, try to have a pretty set schedule for your child and MAKE IT VISUAL.
This has made a WORLD of difference for my son, since his morning routine is always the same:
- Wake up
- Eat breakfast
- Go potty
- Get dressed
- Brush teeth
- Go to school
Since he knows the order, it is fairly easy to get him to move on to the next thing.
Having certain activities that take place at certain times, will give your child the stability and consistency they crave.
That way, a transition doesn’t seem so big, since the next to-do is already familiar to them.
Give about a week once you’ve created a schedule for your child to become comfortable with it, but then you should see serious positive changes with your child!
Now what are your favorite tips for helping your child with daily transitions? Tell me below!
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