Transitions can be difficult for kids. You are playing with your friends and suddenly it time to go home! You are having the best time in the bath but mum says it’s time to hop out. You have almost finished a magnificent drawing but sadly the bell has gone and it is time to pack up.
We are constantly transitioning from one activity to the next. Just in the morning, a child transitions from their bed, to the breakfast table, then into the shower and out the door on their way to school or kindergarten. Transitions are part of our everyday lives but can be particularly difficult for some children.
Here are some useful tips that may help your child with those difficult transitions:
- Talk to your child! Communication is the key in every task or activity you do with your child. If they are aware of what is coming next it will reduce the surprise element and diminish their unrealistic expectations.
- Set up predictable household routines. Have a specific order for their morning routine and a time in which things are done. It may be hard to stick to at first but your child will soon learn what is coming next.
- Use a family calendar so the child is aware and can see what they have on, on each day.
- Stick up visual schedules for the day or their morning/afternoon so your child can see exactly what is coming next and what steps are left for them to complete e.g. dinner, bath, brush teeth, quiet time, bed.
- Try to use natural breaks to help your child transition. If they complete one component of a task use that break to stop it all together.
- Countdown, music or timers can be useful to stop an activity. Make sure you use the same count down strategy so that it reduces confusion and reinforces to the child that they must stop what they are doing after “five minutes” or after “this song finishes”.
- Get your child involved in the transition. For example at bath time say “Let’s see if you can get all the toys in this box before we get out?”
- Give your child choices within the transition but not about it. Eg. we are getting dressed but you can pick which pants you wear today. Wording is key!
- Make it FUN! Try to make getting dressed, having a shower and leaving the house a game! An example is Race the clock: if they complete their tasks (eg. showering) before the specified time they get a reward. Whether it is a sticker on their reward chart (ensure the reward chart is specific for transitions) or an activity they want to do after school.
If you feel that you child is experiencing difficulty with transitioning to different activities and you require some assistance, please contact Kids At Max on (03) 9702 4447.