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3 Secrets to Getting Your Child to Transition From One Activity to Another

3 Secrets to Getting Your Child to Transition From One Activity to Another

    Have you ever told your child that it’s time to go somewhere or do something else and their response was either to ignore you or yell at you? There are ways to avoid this and make the transition from activity to activity easy and smooth.

    In order for your children to feel comfortable and cooperative moving from one activity to the next there are a few things you will need to do.

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    First, children need and love routine – no matter how old they are. If they experience the same basic sequence each and every day, they will simply expect and anticipate a change in activity. For example, if your basic routine with your toddler is to wake up, play, eat, watch TV, get dressed, go out somewhere, come home and eat lunch, go to sleep, wake up after 2 hours, have a snack, do a one-on-one activity with you, play alone for an hour, watch TV, eat dinner, brush teeth, then go to sleep, they will naturally move through their day with ease. They often will remind you when it’s time to go out if you are running a bit late.

    When I was a teacher I used to write our schedule for the day on the whiteboard and added short bits of information describing exactly what they needed to have ready. Our day always flowed smoothly and the children were calm knowing what to expect. If you have a child three years or older who tends to be a bit anxious or may have autistic tendencies this is a terrific way to help them feel calm and competent that they are able to handle their day. (For younger children, you could use pictures posted on poster board or the fridge instead)

    The second area to look at is the way in which you tell your child it’s time to move on to the next activity. Yelling from the other room is not a positive or effective way to handle this. A better way is to go to your child a little before you want to move on, sit with them, enter their world, and make a comment such as:

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    • “You sure like your trains, don’t you?” or
    • “What a neat idea you had to build a LEGO house like this” or
    • “I loved that book when I was young”

    Then say, in a very excited tone of voice:

    • “It’s time to get our shoes on to go to the __________(park,store,friend’s house,playgroup) Let’s go!”

    Extend your hand towards them or pick them up and give them a big hug then begin talking about where you’re going, who you’ll see, etcetera. This will keep them focused and will build excitement and cooperation.

    If your child whines, there are other issues going on like hunger, tiredness level, not being used to a routine or not being used to having limits set for them.

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    The technique I suggest for bedtime or leaving a playground is to use the countdown method. Go to your child and say, “Anna, you have 5 minutes and then it’s time for sleepy, sleepy, (or whatever words you want to use)” OR “Sam, you have 5 minutes and then it’s time to go home for lunch”.

    After this, go to them at 4 mins, 3 mins, 2 mins, 1 min, and then say, “Okay, time to go now.” or “Okay, time for sleepy, sleepy”.

    The last point I want to make about transitions is this: you must speak in a happy tone, yet a matter-of-fact tone as well. There is no room for soft voices here, no room for reminding and no room for explaining or coercing. You are just stating a fact in a happy voice about what it is that you ARE going to be doing.

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    Do your part by stating excitedly what you will be doing and then carry on. The only thing left to do is to enjoy the time you will be spending with your happy child.

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2020

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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