How to Make Transitions Easier for Children

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Have you ever been in a hurry to get out the door to an appointment, only to find your child has other plans? Does your toddler throw a temper tantrum every time you need to leave the park? For many children, going from one activity to task to the next can raise big emotions. 

It’s important to realize that it may be hard for children to transition between daily tasks. Some techniques have been proven effective when mastering transitions, whether it’s transitioning between playtime and bath time, going outside to coming inside, or moving from one subject to the next.  

Helping your child with transitions is part of teaching them to regulate emotions–discover BLOOM’s course Emotional Control and Regulation to get started helping your child today.

Strategies for Easier Transitions

There are some helpful strategies that will guide you in teaching your child to transition easier between tasks. Strategies include visual and verbal preparation, creating visual and tactile schedules, and maintaining a consistent routine. 

These methods can also be applied to transitions from one activity to the next. If your child is more visual or auditory, you can use rhythm to help them transition or regulate into a transition. For example, sing what you want them to do to a song, using a staccato voice. Say it repetitively (i.e. “Now it's time to put on your coat, put on your coat, put on your coat. Now it’s time to put on your coat, to put on your coat...and then now it's time to open the door, and walk to the car, walk to the car..”.). You can also use a metronome to match their heartbeat while you chant–clapping, stomping or any instrument like a maraca also work.

Another helpful tool is called a “Time Timer,” which can be found on Amazon for a relatively inexpensive cost. To start it, you have to pull down a lever showing the time left on the clock as a color (red, blue or green), and children see less of the red as the time decreases. Then, when the time is up, it rings two times with a single pleasant “ding.” This is an excellent tool because it is a visual and auditory timer.

5 Techniques to Ease Transitions

  1. Make it clear how much longer an activity will last. Using a visual timer can be great to remind them how much time they have left to complete their current activity.
  2. Explain what is coming next. Offering your child something to look forward to with the next task or activity can help ease the transition. Explain what they can expect and why they can be somewhat motivated about the change.
  3. Utilize a transition object or toy. Sometimes bringing out your child’s comfort toy can offer a welcome distraction as you transition to the next activity. Additionally, holding something in a child’s hands inhibits the Moro primitive movement pattern to help children not be aggressive or reactive. 
  4. Try a distraction. Is your toddler always upset when it’s time to leave the park? Try bringing out a snack or drink as you welcome them towards the car to head home. 
  5. Be consistent. Consistently offering a child a cue that an activity is coming to an end can help them anticipate the end of one activity and learn to adjust their behavior. “This is your 2-minute reminder!” or “Time to pick your last thing to play on at the park before we leave :) ”

Improve Transitions With Your Child’s Through BLOOM

It’s okay and perfectly normal if your child struggles with transitions. As parents, we often seek tools and strategies to help our kids when they struggle. Leaving the park, getting dressed, heading out of the house for school–these transitions can be made easier with an intentional approach and a few tricks in your back pocket. 

At BLOOM, we aim to meet your family at your point of need. Whether you have a toddler struggling with transitions or tantrums, or a teenager with challenging communication preferences, BLOOM is here to support your family and your child. Discover tools to help your child with emotional control and regulation–watch the first course video free by clicking here.

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