Making “Transition Time”… A Happy Time

One of our children all dressed(red hat) at childcare centerThe road to a successful “transition time” is a simple one but not always an easy one. Three of the most important things for parents and caregivers to remember are;

  1. Maintain clear expectations
  2. Demonstrate consistency
  3. Keep emotions at a minimum



One of our children all dressed at Children's TimeWith clear expectations, children know what to do and how you expect them to behave. With consistency, children are aware of the consequences for their behavior ahead of time and have the tools to make good choices. By keeping our emotions in check, we can set a calm tone for our children to follow. Leaving out one or any of these can make transition times tearful, fearful, and frustrating for our children and most definitely frustrating for the adults.

The “Heads-up”

Informing your child as to what is going to happen during a transition is very important. If picking your child up from child care or a playmates house is a hard transition for them, talk about it before you drop them off. Tell them what you expect from them when you come to pick them up and what will happen if they do not meet your expectations.

The “Follow Through”

Have some things at home that you can use to enforce this expectation (for example loss of a favorite television show, or loss of a toy that they enjoy playing with). I always avoided using things that would make the evening harder or would take away from our already short time together, (for example losing outside play time or losing a bedtime story).

The “Celebration”

Always remember to celebrate your child’s transition successes. Praise them on your way home, while it is still fresh in their minds, for their good listening and their cooperative departure. Tell them how proud and happy you are and award them some special time or a one-on-one activity with you. Eventually, successful transitions will become part of your routine together.

Tips for a successful Morning Transition:

Home made scheduleMost children have difficulty with getting out of the house in a timely manner. Something that I have found to work very well is a visual schedule. I create these schedules often for a number of reasons. The most successful, by far, is the morning transition. These schedules should show the time, followed by the chore and then a picture of the chore. (see schedule to left) This empowers children to become more independent and, as a bonus, they are practicing pre-reading skills without even know it!