We all know how important routine is for children, as well as for adults! Moving from one activity or place to the next as adults, can become seamless, easy, and stress-free. For children, unexpected changes to what they are doing can be stressful, challenging, and overwhelming. How do you make it easier on them?
Throughout their day, children transition from parents to teachers, home to car, play to dinner. The difference between children transitioning and adults transitioning is that a child does not often control their own transitions – an adult decides them. They lack control in their routine, which can be a source of their stress.
How do you make these transitions easier on a child? How do you give them back some control?
The first step would be to prepare them for a transition. Let them know one is about to take place. Rather than just informing them, you can make transitions more fun. Use a timer, an instrument, or a funny noise to alert them. Sing a silly song with them through the transition. Get them involved by asking them to alert everyone to a transition. The more a child can predict and participate in a change, the easier that change is on them.
When the transition is transformed from a stressful change to a fun game it becomes exciting. If the floor becomes lava on their transition from playtime to dinner, switching activities becomes more natural, more fun, and easier for your child to handle. Let them think of the game too to inspire their creativity! You can prompt them by asking questions like I wonder how we can get to the car today?
You can also prepare a visual schedule for them to help plan the day. Make cards that show each activity they will go through every day that they can carry with them. Have a schedule of the day’s events in a central location like the fridge that your child can reference throughout the day.
If this doesn’t work, giving your child a job might. Children are more co-operative when they feel like they are part of the process. Getting them to help set the table for dinner is a great way to get them involved in preparing for the meal and transition from their previous activity.
If your child is having a tough time with transitioning between activities, choose a toy or special object they can use to help them through transitions.
At school, teachers prepare children for transitions by creating special routines and engaging children in the change about to take place. When children are able to lead or participate in the transition, they become eager and excited to move to a new activity.
When a child is transitioning to a child care setting for the first time, Childventures likes to make the transition as smooth as possible. We schedule a few visit for your child and your family to help make sure your child feels comfortable. This gives parents an opportunity to learn more about their child’s program and pass on any information that may be beneficial to the child.
At Childventures, we also encourage you to start child care a few weeks prior to your work start dates so that both you and your child can be eased into your new routines. While your child is at Childventures, your teachers will keep you informed with how your child is doing. We are especially cautious to do this in the first few weeks, so that parents are aware of how their children are handling the transition.
Do you have any creative ways to help your children prepare for a transition? Let us know in the comments below!