Friday, October 22, 2010

IT’S TIME TO GO NOW! Helping Children Transition Through Daily Tasks

As adults, we easily transition from one task to another- meeting to meeting to lunch to presentation. For children, it’s a little bit harder. Not only do kiddos not have as firm a concept of time as adults (five more minutes may or may not be meaningful to your child depending on her age), but they just aren’t used to having to go from one thing to another as frequently and easily as we do. Putting away the paints and moving to something less enticing, like bedtime, bath time, or even dinner can at times be a struggle and, at other times, be an all out battle of wills.

So how do we, as parents, help our kiddos smoothly move along the path from activity to activity while also keeping our sanity? It’s all in the transitions. And the transitions are all about preparation.

Here are some tips for preparing your child to move to the next activity:

  • Frequent reminders about amount of time until the transition will occur – ‘Five more minutes until we put away Barbies and get in the bath tub.’ ‘Three more minutes until…’ You may feel like a broken record, but your child will feel more prepared for what’s coming.

  • Deciding on a good stopping place – This works well with activities like art projects. Instead of making your child stop cold turkey at a set time, help him decide on an appropriate stopping place that he can easily pick back up from next time. Bonus: It teaches your child time management.

  • Saying goodbye to toys or places – Did you read Heather’s Parent of the Week post? When it’s time to leave the swimming pool, she lets her daughter say goodbye to the pool, fountain, and hot tub. This gives her closure to her fun time.

  • Remind your child when she can return to the activity – Let your child know that ‘now it’s time for bed / bath / school / lunch / whatever, but you can come back to this activity again _______.’ Then stick to it. Even if she doesn’t remember. This will instill in her a sense of confidence that she can trust you.

  • Leave in a fun way – If whining or the beginnings of the cry lip ensue, combat them with a quick, ‘Oh, did you want to go piggy back, upside down, or on my shoulders? You pick! And will I be a horse, an elephant, or a dinosaur today?’ Giving your child a ‘sweet ride’ to wherever he’s going next is sure to perk up his attitude!

How do you help your child transition throughout the day?


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