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!




I have news for you: toddlers tantrum.

This is what they do.  I have spoken about how to deal with tantrums before and I will talk about it again because it is a tough situation for parents with little ones.

Children who are approximately 18 months to 4 years old are starting to develop independence.  They don’t know exactly how to express it, so it usually comes out as a tantrum, whining or just as unpleasant behavior.   Parents don’t want to hear it and don’t know what to do.

So here some more ideas:  give them more opportunities to be independent and to express themselves and they will need to lash out less.

Give them jobs: feed the cat, put the shoes away, wipe up the spilled water, put on their clothes.  Young children love to help out and “do it themselves” so give them that opportunity.  I can hear a lot of parents saying, my child would never do any of those things!  That’s ok too, find something special that they would like to do (help dad with the measuring tape, help mom crack the eggs for the pancakes).  When your child feels like they are purposeful and they are competent (they CAN do it!) then they will tantrum less.

But here’s the thing, they will still tantrum.  Children (and adults…) get fussy when they are hungry or tired.  I find that I am often out of the house right before lunchtime or right before nap and I dread trying to get them to leave their friends’ house, gymnastics or the park when they are tired or hungry.  So here’s my trick:  (I’m not a fan of tricking children, so you can decide for yourself how comfortable you are with this idea, I find that this trick builds thinking skills but some may disagree…)

When your children don’t want to leave, ask them if they want to come back sometime.  When all they can say is “NOOOO!” then respond, “Ok, we don’t have to come back if you don’t want to.”  

So let me play it out for you:

When it is almost time to leave, give your children a warning, “We are going home in 5 minutes!”  Then when it is time to go say, “All right, time to go home now.”


So this is when you ask them, “Did you have fun?”


“Would you like to come back sometime?”


“Ok, if you don’t want to come back, that’s ok too.”

“NOOOO!!” (I can start to hear them think it through a little more…)

“Would you like to come back sometime?”

“Hmmmm…. yes!”

And instead of thinking about how horrible it is to leave, they start thinking about how they can come back.  This trick works especially well if you have kept your word (which is why I don’t like tricking kids) and you have built up trust.  They know that you will bring them back in the future and the tantrum subsides.

Of course this doesn’t work every time but children often have a knee-jerk negative response and when they begin to realize that they way need to think through their answers, then they may become a little more aware.  

This article is © Copyright – All rights reserved http://boulderchildwhisperer.com

A common trap that parents fall into is “tricking” the child to get through a difficult situation. 

It is so easy to say, “we can do that when we get home” just to get a child to make a transition, knowing full well that the child will forget on the way home and you won’t have to follow through.

But this is the first step in building a child’s trust, teaching them about being trustworthy and helping their behavior.

All you have to do when you get home is what you told them you were going to do, even if (and especially if) they forgot.

Almost immediately, you will see a behavior change in your child when you say, “remember how I told you I would read that book after nap?  Well, now your nap is over, so let’s read the book!”  If your child no longer wants to read the book, then that’s perfectly ok.  But you remembered which will help your child build memory skills and will show him or her that your word is worth something.

Once you do this a couple of times, all you have to say in the future is, “we can’t go to the park now because we have errands to run, but we can go this weekend.”  Your child will know that you mean it, they will trust you, and they won’t throw a fit.

When I was five or six years old, I incessantly asked my mother for a kitten.  In order to get me to stop, she said, “when you are eight, you can get a kitten.”  She had no idea how important that kitten was to me (or park, or story, or treat to your child).  I never brought up a kitten again until the day of my eighth birthday.   I did get a kitten a couple of months later but I never forgot what my mother said.