Strategies to Support Children Through Transitions

Strategies to support young children through transitions | Kids Academy Early Learning Centres | Child Care & Early Education for Children Aged 0-5 Years.

Transitions can be challenging for young children, whether moving from one activity to another, or adjusting to new routines at home. Proper support during these times is crucial to help children feel secure and capable of handling change. Here are some effective strategies to support children through transitions, ensuring they navigate these moments with confidence and ease.

Let children know change is coming

Children can often accept change better when they know that it’s coming, as they thrive on predictability and routine. Establishing a consistent routine helps children understand what to expect and when.

Here are two ways to create and communicate effective routines :

  • Daily schedule: Develop a visual daily schedule using pictures or symbols to represent each activity. Display it prominently in your home at your child’s height.
  • Morning and evening rituals: Start and end each day with specific rituals, such as a morning song or bedtime story, to create a sense of structure.

Get the timing right

Transitions are a regular part of a child’s day, and timing them well can make shifts smoother.

  1. Choose natural breaks: Stop activities at natural breaks, like when a child finishes a puzzle, before starting a new task. This respects their current engagement.
  2. Provide warnings: Give your child a heads-up about upcoming changes, such as, “You have 5 more minutes to play.”
  3. Allow extra time: If transitions are particularly tough for your child, extend the time between activities to help them adjust more comfortably.

Give your child a choice about activity changes

While you can’t always let your child choose when to stop an activity, you can offer choices related to the transition itself.

  • Incorporate choices: For instance, “Oliver, we need to get in the car soon. You can bring one toy. Which one will it be?” or “Do you want to do it yourself, or should we do it together?”
  • Limit options: Provide limited choices, like picking between two t-shirts instead of all options. “Would you like to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt?”.
  • Clear instructions: Avoid suggesting a choice where there isn’t one. Instead of “Sophia, would you like to pack up those toys now?” say, “Sophia, please start packing up those toys now.”

Point out the positive side of an activity change

Pointing out the positive aspects of an activity change can help divert your child’s attention to something enjoyable.

  • Make it fun: Turn transitions into games, like marching to the car or playing “I spy” during the drive home.
  • Link activities: Connect a less desirable task with something your child likes, such as, “First we clean up, then we have a snack.”
  • Use music: Signal transitions with songs, like a “clean-up song.”
  • Highlight rewards: Emphasise positive outcomes, like, “If we leave now, we’ll have time to play before dinner.”
  • Offer praise: Acknowledge and praise your child for handling transitions well, reinforcing teamwork.

Talk about emotions

It’s normal for children to feel disappointed when stopping an enjoyable activity. Use this as a chance to discuss emotions and encourage them to express their feelings, like saying, “I know you’re frustrated you couldn’t play another game.”

Staying calm during difficult transitions helps your child remain calm too. Get to their eye level, say their name softly, and explain the change clearly and calmly.

Avoid rewarding tantrums by extending the activity. Be understanding yet firm, ensuring they follow through on what’s asked.