My morning routine requires coffee. Part of that routine is my coffee habit. On the days I don’t get my coffee, I feel off, and my day doesn’t start out well. I may even get downright crabby! We all have habits that help us transition into our day and set our day up for success. Some are a conscious effort, and others are unconscious because they have been a part of our lives for so long, we don’t realize they exist. What are your habits for transitioning? Are we understanding in letting our children have habits to transition? The following tips will help you as you help your child learn to transition well, which will result in smoother days.
Transitioning is the process of changing from one activity to another activity. Some transitions, like moving from sitting on the floor to sitting in a chair, are easy. Others are difficult and can be painful. Moving, changing careers, and dealing with a death are examples of difficult transitions. Whether a transition is easy or difficult, how a person transitions is unique to them. What makes transitioning more complex is that transitions that were easy one day can be difficult other days. As parents, we may view these complexities as defiance instead of a transitioning problem that has a solution.
To further understand the process of transitioning, think about having to move furniture into a new living space. Some pieces are small, and we can easily walk through a doorway with them. Other pieces are large, and we must take time to figure out how to get them through the doorway without causing damage to the item or ourselves. Sometimes we may decide to just muscle that piece of furniture through the doorway, and the result is having to deal with collateral damage.
The furniture represents the problem that needs to be solved so your child can transition well. Walking through the doorway represents moving from one activity to another. Sometimes there are no problems, and your child’s transition goes smoothly. However, there will also be times when problems of all shapes and sizes will get in the way.
The question for us is: How can we help our children do difficult transitions well and avoid collateral damage (aka, meltdowns, tantrums, etc.)?
Some transitioning issues can be solved easily using the process of foreshadowing. Counting down the time your child has left to play a video game or talking through the family schedule in the morning and throughout the day are examples of foreshadowing. Other issues may require a conversation to define the problem and discover a solution. Then, help your child form a habit out of the solution. For example, there was a kid I worked with who struggled with the transition of leaving the house and going somewhere in the car. Even if it was traveling to a place he liked, explosive tantrums took place. An hour or more of begging, bribing, and threatening was needed to get him in the car. One day I asked him, “Help me understand what is going on with not wanting to go places in the car?” The problem was that he was afraid he would get hungry and no one would stop for food. HUH … as an adult, I would never have figured that out without this conversation. We discovered a solution of packing a sandwich before going anywhere. Lastly, I helped him form the habit of packing a sandwich before getting in the car, no matter how long the drive was. The result was that the tantrums stopped. The long-lasting result was that this became the framework to solve other transitioning issues.
Where do you start the process of helping your children transition well? Start with the transitions that are most frequently difficult. As your child gets comfortable with the process of problem-solving, you will notice that getting to a solution is much easier.
In the area of transitioning well, you’re about to start winning!