How to Help Young Children with Everyday Transitions
A transition is simply moving from one activity to another. Transitions can be (but are not limited to): putting shoes and coats on, getting into the car, getting out of the car, the arrival of guests, moving from mealtime to playtime, tidying up toys, moving from mealtime to bathtime, moving from booktime to bedtime or moving from inside play to outside play.
Here are three ways to help transitions flow with ease in your home:
The more consistent a certain ‘routine’ is, the more confident your child is with what is coming next and what is expected of him. If you start calling out, “We’re leaving! Coats on!” but continue to tidy up the kitchen, grab lunches, take the dog out etc. this sends a mixed message. Start the transition when you, the parent, are truly ready to get moving.
Have Developmentally Appropriate Expectations- Help them when they need it!
A five-year-old may still need help making her very big single bed. A two-and-a-half-year-old still needs help getting boots and coats on. A seven-year-old may need you to reach the cups and plates in the cupboards and put them on the table for him to set out for dinner. All children would love and appreciate help tidying up their toys and things at the end of a long day. Focusing less on verbal commands and more on how your can physically help a child with expectations and transitions takes a lot of unneeded stress out of the process.
Use Transitions Songs
Instead of calling, “Get your shoes on!” we sing,
“Shoes are for playing outside, don’t you know? Slip them on and out we go!”
Instead of calling, “Mealtime!”, we sing,
“Welcome, welcome! Welcome to our table! Welcome, welcome! Let’s all join hands together.”
Before the blessing we light the candle, singing,
“Candle, candle burning bright: Share with us your golden light.”
To ask for focus and calm, we sing out,
“Dip, dip, dip! My blue ship. Sails across the water, like a cup and saucer. Hold, hold, steady! I am ready.”
At storytime when lighting the candle we sing,
“Quiet your tongues, be crossed every thumb and fix on me deep your eyes. Then out of my mind, a story will come, that is ancient and lovely and wise.”
At tidy up time we sing (and tidy together),
“Tick-tock goes the clock. What does it have to say? Time for us to pick up our toys and put them all away.”
At bedtime right after a book or before leaving the bedroom we say,
“Now the sun has gone to bed. The stars are shining overhead. In their nests the birds all sleep. Into their homes the animals creep. Children now no more will roam. It’s bedtime now. We’re safe at home.”