If there is one thing that all parents struggle with; it is transitions.
There are two kinds of transition with which we really struggle. One kind is getting a child to switch gears. Whether it is transitioning from home to out of the house or leaving the park to go to lunch, this is often a struggle. The second transition is moving a child from one routine into another routine. These kinds of transitions are moving from a diaper to no diaper, moving from a family bed to an independent bed or no longer using a bottle.
Parents often feel even more isolated around transitions because they frequently happen at home. It really feels like you are the only one going through this difficulty when actually the opposite is true. Everyone (and I mean, everyone) goes through a hard time with transitions.
But don’t despair! There are some things you can do! For switching gears transitions, there is a very effective tool you can use:
Focus on what is just beyond the transition.
Instead of saying “Get your shoes on. We have to go. I said Now!”
Say, “Do you want an apple or an orange to eat in the stroller?”
Or, “Do you want to stop at King Soopers or Trader Joes on the way home from school?”
And if the case is leaving the house to go to school (or wherever, it just seems like school is pretty much always the hardest transition): focus either on something good at school or focus on something after school.
Instead of saying, “Stop dilly dallying! Get ready now! We have to go!”
Try, “Which friend are you going to play with at school today?” (While you hand them their jacket)
Or, “Which errand do you want to get done this afternoon?” (As you are opening the door)
This can work for leaving the house in the morning or for leaving somewhere fun. So if you are at the park or a friend’s house, you can talk about the next step rather than the leaving part. “What do you want for dinner tonight?” or “Who should we facetime when we get home?”
I often hear parents bribing their children through transitions. They say that there is a treat waiting for them in the car. Or they say that there is something special at home. There are two reasons for this: 1) it is effective 2) children often forget the bribe through the transition and parents know that. But there are two reasons that we don’t want to do this. One is because bribery breaks down relationships and trickery destroys trust.
The second type of transition is a much bigger transition. It is a change of routine such as no longer using a bottle, or no more diapers at night. This kind of transition feels really hard because you know that there is the other side of the transition, but you just can’t imagine getting through all of the muck and sludge to get there.
But the idea is the same as the first transition;
Focus on the end of the transition in other words: you can do this!
Know that so many parents have gone through this before you and they had just as much difficulty as you are having, but they made it to the other side just as you will.
Change is tough and your kids will resist. They will cry and they will fuss but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t change your routine.
Let’s say that you have always given your child milk or yogurt or cereal just before bed and you want to take that part of your routine away. You know in your mind that this is going to be horrible and that they may not sleep as well for a couple of days and that they will be super fussy. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go through the transition, it just means that it will be tough.
But focus just beyond the transition and know that they will eventually eat better at dinner, they won’t have a higher risk for cavities and it will overall be a better routine for health. So know that the outcome will be optimal and be ready for some fussing.
Transitions are hard, but as they are a big part of life, be there as support for your kiddos and know that everyone is going through the same thing!