As an adult, it is often hard to remember how bewildering a child’s life can be. What is happening next? Will I like what the day holds? This need for understanding is especially true for a child facing any type of challenge. It is no wonder that transitions can be unnerving for children, parents and instructors alike.

Helping a child transition means more than getting to the end of the day without a tantrum. Having strategies in place promotes self-regulation and self-control. These skills are great investments toward independence. Try these five strategies for pain-free transitions:

Enter Your Child’s World

Take a moment to consider your child’s perspective. Are there situations that could cause fear, anxiety or boredom? Will it be hard to see the fun end? Be sure that you have your child’s full attention. Consider a signal such as a song or motion that will assure focus. A united effort will go a long way toward a successful day.

Establish Winning Signals

Help your youngster know what is coming. Clearly explain the time limits until a transition will take place. Use a “first, then” framework that alternates between a preferred and non-preferred activity when possible.

Visual schedules help your child use multiple cues in preparation for a transition. Try a simple timer or countdown clock that will allow your child to see and hear signals for a transition. Allow participation in operating the device and choosing at what point a final warning will be given.

Encourage Transition Objects

Many children will benefit from tactile reinforcements or comforts. These objects may be appropriate for the situation, such as a book about animals to accompany a trip to the zoo, or a favorite toy or soother to have for all situations. The child knows that when this object appears, the activity has drawn to a close.

Enjoy Positive Movement

Children love to move and interact with their environments. Create a transition that promotes movement and fun. Bring out the bubbles to step on en route to the next activity. Act like a favorite animal or tiptoe like a detective looking for clues. Order and joy can go hand-in-hand.

Enable Increasing Ownership

Periodically, talk together about your routines. Is there anything that can be improved? Does something cause frustration that can be altered? Remember that teamwork will promote enjoyment instead of dread. You may be surprised that the best transition tools of all come from your child’s imagination.

The days of childhood are precious and fleeting. We at All About Therapy are ready to guide you through all these transitions. We are equipped to meet a wide range of needs, including developmental, physical or cognitive delays. A highly trained therapist will partner with you to develop a customized plan. Call on us today to start an incredible journey of hope for your child.