Transitioning to a new activity can be challenging for many young children. A few contributing factors could be: not wanting to leave a preferred activity, not understanding what to expect, or feeling out of control.
Here are a few ways you can help make the transition easier for your child:
Set a timer. As you set the timer, let your child know it is time to clean up/stop/go when the timer goes off. This will provide your child with time to prepare for the upcoming transition. Additionally, your child receives a clear signal that the time is up and makes the timer the rule-enforcer.
Use first, then statements. Statements such as “First we will wash hands, then we will eat” or “First we eat dinner, then we’ll have ice cream” will provide your child with a clear understanding of what to expect. First, then statements will let your child to know they will be able to get what they want while making the expectation clear that something else must happen first.
Create predictable routines. Doing the same routine during daily activities like cleaning up after a meal, getting ready for the day, or getting ready for bed will establish predictability. Routines allow your child to predict what is happening next which provides them with a sense of control. This sense of control can help your child feel secure as they transition to the next activity.
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