Saturday, November 6, 2010

Transition time needed

Children need time to adjust when there are changes. Some of these changes are small ones like moving to the next activity, and some are big ones, like moving to a new neighborhood and school or even bigger, when their parents divorce.

Think about it - we need transition time too. And as adults, we often give ourselves time for the little things. We are already thinking about what we will be doing next, what we need to stop now so we can go on to the next thing. When we stop children from their current activity, they have been focusing on that and may be enjoying it. And then we come along and interrupt them and tell them they need to stop right now. How do we feel when this happens to us, when someone interrupts our activity, and doesn't give us time to finish?

So, children need time, just like we do. When we pick them up from school, if they are busy in an activity, we can let them know, "In 5 more minutes, we're going to need to leave. So finish up what you are doing so you can be ready." Or we can ask them to show us what they are doing and ask if we can do anything to help them get ready to go. Or we can let them know that they can work on this more once we get home. There are many possibilities. But abruptly asking them to stop is tough for kids and can lead to a much longer temper tantrum that spills over into whatever we needed to do next.

Try to put yourself in the child's shoes. How would I feel if I were interrupted? What helps me get ready for the next activity? Our own internal clock is ticking as we notice the time and begin to finish up or put things away so we are ready for our internal deadline. By giving children's warnings and time to adjust, we are helping them learn to make smoother transitions.

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