By Michelle LaRowe
The most trying times of day are often the transition times: mornings, drop off, pick up, bedtime… anytime you and your child are shifting gears into a new activity place or person.
How can you help your child, your nanny (and yourself!) navigate the transition times in your day?
Remember that children thrive on routine and structure and they like to know what’s coming next in their day. They tend to find security in daily predictable patterns and routines. Providing a way for your child to gain an understanding of how his day will go will eliminate some of the undesirable byproducts (tantrums in younger ones, lack of listening and cooperation with the older ones) that tend to rear their ugly heads during transition times.
When you are planning your child’s routine, pre-thinking the typical events and needs in an average day can help you come up with many ways to simplify stress and make transitions tantrum free for you and your child.
Here are some of my best tips for creating a transition friendly environment.
· Have a place for everything. Having a place for everything eliminates lots of morning chaos (and the added pre-caffeine stress) associated with last minute search and rescue missions for lost shoes, homework, library books, etc.
· Utilize a cork board. Having a bulletin board by the front door reserved for school notices and schedules is a great visual, ever-present remind of what’s going on and when.
· Have a specific place for morning necessities by the front door. Getting Alex in the habit of picking his back pack up by the front door and leaving it there once he’s done with it for the night, will eliminate frantic morning homework hunts.
· Pull out clothes in the evening. Laying out Mandy’s clothes the night before on the edge of her bed is one less thing to have to deal with in the morning. Setting up systems for these little things really does save time and energy in the long run.
· Use verbal cues to wind down activities. Phrases like “You have three more minutes to finish eating” or “We are leaving for preschool in five minutes” help your child prepare for what comes next.
· Sing loud and proud. Creating songs for activities also helps kids transition. Who wants to clean up? No one – until you burst into my rendition of “Clean up, put away” personalized to include the name of every child in the room. And it works with older kids too, they’ll just do what you want so that you STOP singing.
· Keep good-byes short, sweet and final. If you’ve chosen a caregiver or care giving situation that you trust, put on your happy face, appear to be confident and with a relaxed approach, say your “see ya laters” and transition on. It will go quite smoother then you think.
Adapted from Working Mom’s 411 by Michelle LaRowe. Revell 2009.