How to help your child through transitions.

Heraclitus said : “The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change -”

Well, try telling that to your child

Picture this; You have 5 minutes to get your child to wear his socks and shoes on, zip up their bag, run downstairs to the building gate to catch his school bus… doable… yes, but he refuses. Why? because Paw Patrol are mid-adventure and the socks don’t feel right and the shoes are too tight. You switch off the TV and coax the child and then it starts… the telltale signs that it’s all going to go belly up. :O

Almost all kids at some point or another have fussed, cried or even had a total meltdown about being asked to give up what they are doing and moving on to the next.

Transitions are hard for everybody but more so a for a child that has trouble expressing him/her self.

The Why:

  • Young children are still in the process of learning how to manage and regulate their emotions. This is to do with brain maturity and will slowly improve
  • They do not have the same sense of time and space as we do. They live in the moment and so find it hard to detach.
  • Children love routines because they have some control over them. When an unpredictable or abrupt change is brought about, it causes confusion and the fear of the unexpected.

What to do:

  • When it is happening: the crying, whining, stomping of the feet etc… (as long as the child is not in physical danger of hurting themselves/others) we pretend to ignore the tantrum and go about getting them and yourself ready for the impending activity.
  • Take a min, walk out to the bathroom/ balcony/window take a couple of deep breaths and then follow the point above. You got this!
  • As they start working with you, shower them with positive words and say how well they handled the task, being specific in the praise.  For eg: it was really so nice that you cleared your toys and came to brush your teeth. OR You were so quick in putting on your uniform and shoes that we now have time to go out and look for butterfly’s before the bus comes. 

Preemptive: What to do to avoid it happening?

  • Always give advance notice. We usually start with telling the boy 30 min, then 10 min and then 5 min before we move to the next activity. DO make sure this is done by face to face or getting down to their eye level and not yelled from across the room- especially for younger children. 
  • If it’s a big event, like a holiday, someone visiting, wedding etc.. it might make sense to start talking about it a few days in advance.
  • Always keep extra time in your hand, so that it is not a panic situation all around. Plan in advance.
  • Bargaining – they can come back to finish the show/activity when you get back. (Most younger kids tend to forget by the time they are back)
  • Drawing or printing picture/images to make Visual Routine for ADL (Activities of Daily Living), talking about an upcoming holiday or using photos of people they might be meeting. Older children may require more verbal reminders and prompting.- This helps giving structure to ADL’s and also reduce the anxiety around new situations/ people.
  • Role play also helps, especially for kids who have social anxiety. Practice makes it familiar.
  • Reward system for example Sticker chart for ADL’s or potty training etc.. 

Informative links:

  1. I highly recommend you go through this article  They have many more well-written articles on helping your children.
  2. Printable Visual Schedules can be found on Google images


One Comment Add yours

  1. Lester Vaz says:

    Absolutely great insights.


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