Kate’s Corner
Aug 27 2014

  Transitions = Change

Young children don’t like to change; change locations, change activities, change food.  We all know babies and toddlers that don’t even want their soiled diapers changed! Basically they struggle “moving” from one place or event into another.  The older they get, the more important it is to help them learn how to change because, really, life is all about change.

While babies are pretty agreeable to being picked up from sleeping or walked around while you carry them from one room to another, toddlers and older children often are not.  They count on routine, and stability.  They fully engage their body and mind in an activity and they learn to count on simple things – like bananas are chewable, blocks fall when they are too high, and that cousin Kelly is lots of fun to play with.  They are in the moment.

How do you help a toddler who doesn’t want to get their coat on and leave the house to go to the store?  How do you introduce new food and texture in their diet?  How do you support new friendships?

·         Most importantly know your child.  What is his hot spot?  Is there a time of day that is more challenging due to time or place?  What are they like when they are tired or hungry?

·         Give them a “heads up.”  The more you prepare a child for a change the better they will manage it.

·         Make the change agreeable and enjoyable.

·         Celebrate effort and forward progress as well as success.

Transition Tips:

·         Talk about the change.  Tell a baby that you are going to change his diaper.  Tell a toddler that lunch will include bananas and new peaches.  Let a preschooler know that a new family has moved on the block with a little girl who is 4 just like she is.  Talk about everything.

·         Feed children.  Disagreeable children are very often hungry children.

·         Start early to prep children for the change. Children are more in tune to visual clues than anything else. If you will be leaving the house at 3:00, put out your child’s jacket at 2:00 and tell her that she can wear it when you leave at 3:00.  Put her outside shoes on well ahead of leaving and tell her she can wear her sneakers in the car.  Pick out some books for the ride or her favorite baby and have them wait at the door.  Change should not be a surprise.

·         Don’t start a project or play activity that cannot be finished before they are leaving, having dinner, or going to bed.  All children truly get lost in play.  They simply don’t have the internal sense of time that adults do.  “You can finish that later” is meaningless to a toddler.  They have no idea what time later is.  Preschoolers will balk and “later” will be what theythink it should be.

·         Make the change interesting, exciting or agreeable.  Children are much more flexible and compliant when they are looking forward to whatever is next.  Include them in plans and ideas.

·         Create routines that are appropriate and clear.  Start with chunks of time; morning, afternoon and nighttime.  When children are ready, routines include meals, play, visits, school…                           Be reliable and pleasant during all parts of the day and all of the steps your children take as they grow.

·         Don’t take it personally when children cry to stay at grandmas, don’t want to go shopping with you, scream leaving the playground, or wrestle putting their coats on.  They’re little and all of this takes time.  They’ll get there.  I promise.

“Let the wild rumpus begin!” Max

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak