Transitions can be difficult for children for a couple of reasons:
Here are some strategies to help with transitions:
Simply using the phrase “First/Then” lets a child know what is happening next and will decrease any anxiety or fear of the unknown. For example, “First we will go to the store, then we will go to the park” “First we put on shoes, then we go to school” “First we eat dinner, then we play”
A child’s concept of time is still developing so if we say to them “we are going to leave the park in 5 minutes” they are going to have a hard time keeping track of this and may think 5 minutes lasts a long time. A simple fix is using a visual timer. A visual timer is simply a clock or timer that we can see and look at as the time counts down. By using a visual timer we are providing a child with a visual so when we say “we are going to leave the park in 5 minutes” or “we need to wait 5 minutes until everyone is ready and then we can leave”, they will have a better understanding of what that means. You can buy specific timers that are made for children, but in my experience, any typical digital timer will work. For example here is an inexpensive version I found on Amazon.com (https://www.amazon.com/Kitchen-Timer-Digital-Countdown-Stopwatch/dp/B07D3BFY6R/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=timer&qid=1563934016&s=gateway&sr=8-3)
This can sometimes be difficult to do based on a family’s schedule but if possible, having a consistent routine can be very helpful for kids. This way, our children know what is expected of them and when things will happen. For example, if a child knows that typically on Saturdays we make breakfast as a family, go grocery shopping, then go to the park that will help a child know what to expect which can make transitions easier.
I hope to provide you with some strategies to get you started. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any additional questions.
See you soon!
Michael Jankowski, MS, OTR/L
Have a topic that you would like Flow Occupational Therapy to Blog about? Send us an email.