Happy New Year! As we are transitioning into the year of 2016, I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about transitions for children. We see a lot of struggles in transitions in the Museum. Children are having fun, and why would they want to leave? Although it’s very typical for young children to have a hard time going from one activity to another, especially when they are not ready, it’s also not fun for anyone to watch children kicking and screaming for not wanting to move on. Following are some tips that may help children transition a little easier.
- Understand that for some young children, transitions feel like their world is breaking down!
When a child is playing with her favorite toy, often it means the world to her. So, when you ask your child to stop playing or do something else, it feels as if the world is breaking down. Imagine what that feels like. No wonder they have a meltdown! After repeating the experience several times, children learn that nothing bad happens with transitions and will be able to make a smoother transition.
- Prepare your child for the transition as best as you can.
Young children need a lot of preparation and warnings that are understandable. Children often have a hard time understanding the concept of time. So, instead of saying, “5 more minutes!” you can say “Put 2 more balls into the box” or “I will sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and after the song is done, we will be leaving.”
- Offer reasonable choices and be firm.
You can give your child some sense of control by offering two or three choices (not any more than three). “We need to leave after we read one more book. Do you want to read the red book or the blue book?” If your child picks something that was not one of the choices that you gave, you can repeat what the choices are. Also, do not let your child move on to the next activity if you said you were leaving after being done with X. Having a clear expectation gives children a sense of security, even if your child might cry at the moment of the transition.
- Praise and remind children of when they had a successful transition!
When your child leaves a place without a struggle, let your child know that he did a good job making a transition. Especially if the transition is rather big, such as going to preschool, you can remind your child of past successes by saying, “Remember when you didn’t want to go to a new playground because you weren’t sure if you were going to like it? But you really liked it and made a lot of friends! Do you think you can try this time and see how you feel just like you did in the playground?”
Bring your snacks on Tasty Tuesdays on the first and third Tuesdays and share your tips and techniques for transitioning!