Numerous strategies can help children transition from one activity to the next and certainly school is a great place for children to learn how to follow routines. While you may not wish to sing our “Tidy Up” song, some of these strategies can be adapted to the home front.
First however, we need to understand something. Imagine you are working on an important project or e-mail and you are right at a critical point. Along comes your spouse saying “Time for dinner”. I might be annoyed enough to say something less polite than “Just a minute”. However, if I was reminded half an hour earlier that we needed to eat by a certain time in order for our son to make it to hockey, I would be more understanding.
Play is a child’s “work”. It is what they are meant to do and they do it with their hearts and souls. Having to stop suddenly will never seem fair to them. We know that preparing a child for a transition is important but sometimes we forget or get distracted. Any kind of timer can be helpful here and you can teach your child how to watch for when it gets close to ringing. Let your child know that when play time is over, it will sound like this. Plan ahead where to put the activity so that it can be resumed at a certain time and decide when that time will be. Be clear and specific (ie tomorrow after breakfast you can finish the lego).
If the activity is an iPad or other electronic device, set the limit ahead of time (one game or level is a natural break). Agree on when a good place to stop will be and hold to it. If you waver even once, your child will test you constantly, hoping that this will be the one time you give in, just like a gambler at a slot machine.
The good news is that with Spring coming, we can all enjoy being out of doors more often and rely less on electronics!
Until next time……Leslie