Managing transitions

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It’s hard to leave behind the things we love, or deal with the disappointment of something being finished. For me, it’s tearing myself away from a good book or realising that I’ve polished off that big bag of crisps.

For toddlers, it’s saying goodbye to the park. Or no more crisps.

If your toddler has big feelings about things being over, you’re definitely not alone.  In response to a few questions from parents recently about how to deal with this, I went to the local park to shoot you a video…

What to do when they won't leave the park: how to help toddler transitions

Acknowledge the feelings. When young children express big feelings it’s because it really feels like that big of a deal to them! It can be helpful to start by acknowledging that, with tone of voice and simple phrases like ‘I know,’ ‘I’m sorry’.

Show, don’t tell. When we’re moving towards a change it’s easy for us adults to start doing lots of talking. Often, it’s more useful to say less and to model the simple steps towards the next activity. This helps children to learn from what you’re doing, rather than adding the additional load of lots of language.

Talk less. Even if your child is understanding spoken language, if they’re having an emotional moment they’re definitely understanding less than usual. Allow lots of quiet time for them to process what you’ve said. Use short and simple phrases.

Consider sensory needs. If your child is loving the swing or the slide and simply never wants to get off, perhaps they need more of that kind of sensory feedback. Are there ways you can plan in more of that movement across their week?

Finally, be kind to yourself. We’ve all had tricky moments where we feel like we’re not managing it well. And there will always be people judging from the sidelines. Shrug them off and give yourself a kind word to acknowledge just how much you are doing.

Found this useful? You might like my video with strategies for teaching turn-taking.

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