How to Support Your Child While Transitioning from one Activity to the Next

toddler with blanket

Have you noticed that the minute you tell your child it’s time to leave somewhere, a tantrum starts brewing? If this is a common occurrence in your household, I want you to know that you are not alone. Transitions are tough for our little ones and often trigger a tantrum. 

When we ask them to transition from one task to another, we’re often asking them to go from doing something fun, like playing with a friend, to doing something not so fun, like cleaning up and going home. Let’s be honest, as adults, we don’t like that either!

I have some tips and tricks up my sleeve that I’m excited to share with you today. These tips will help you eliminate those transition tantrums and help your child shift from one task to another with ease. Doesn’t that sound nice? Let’s get into it!

Give them a heads up

Rather than abruptly telling your child, “It’s time to get out of the bathtub.” Let them know ahead of time that their bathtime is coming to an end. Give them a ten minute warning, five minute warning and then a one minute warning. When you give them the one minute warning, make it clear that their time is coming to an end and let them know that they need to wrap up any loose ends on their game before the minute is up. 

Time is such an abstract concept for our toddlers. If your child is having a hard time grasping how long ten minutes or five minutes is, try using the free “TimeTimer” app for a visual representation of the time frame you’ve assigned to the task.

Make it fun

Which would you rather do?

Option 1: “Pick up your toys, it's time to get ready for bed.”

Option 2: “It’s time to clean up. I spy with my little eye, red toys. Can you find all the red toys and put them away?”

Were you thinking of option 2? Because I sure was! Our children would much rather connect with us and have fun while completing a task. When we, the caregivers, slow down and have fun with our child, we gain our child’s cooperation in completing the task and can often skip the pushback/tantrum.

Other ways you can make something fun are:  make up a song, play a game, or be silly.

Transition with a lovey

Transitions can signal a change from one environment to another environment. Letting your child make the switch while bringing a familiar lovey or blanket with them can offer a sense of security and safety for your child. A child’s lovey is a dependable tool that they depend on to help them stay calm. This constant during a change can be a key player in keeping their big feelings regulated. 

There you have it! 3 tips and tricks to help make those transitions go smoother. Remember that toddlers are all different so one strategy may work better for you in a particular moment than another. It’s nice to keep them all in your back pocket for a time of need.