Becoming a better parent: Transitions

Our Westview team member, Terry Owens, writes his next post in a series, Becoming a Better Parent. His article is “Transitions.”

From the day we come into this world, transitions are a part of our everyday lives. Our parents helped us navigate these transitions and we should help our children to do the same.

Transitions fall into two categories, life transitions, and daily transitions. Life transitions affect our lives in big ways.

  • When you move your toddler from the crib to the bed, it’s a big moment for them. It’s a sign that they’re no longer a baby but it’s a different experience.
  • Starting school is a big event in a child’s life. Transitioning from the security of home into an unfamiliar world, they feel both excitement and fear. Being away from mom or dad is scary but this is a new adventure! Remember, adventures require preparation.
  • Moving to a new house or town is a big transition for your child. Eventually, they’re more than likely to experience this challenge; help them see what is coming.
  • Having a brother or sister come into their life is a transition for them. Now they must share Mom and Dad. They’re the older sibling now and that’s a big responsibility.

We as parents can help our children understand that we all must go through life transitions. Talking about these transitions as they approach prepares our children; talking with them during the transition helps them cope. For example, working with your toddler on their ABC’s and teaching them to write their name is preparing them from their transition to school. Setting up a calendar that has the day the you are moving to a new home and marking off each day as a countdown to moving day will help your child be ready for a move. Be intentional.

Daily transitions are a part of the daily schedules that we follow. You may not have your schedule posted on the wall for everyone to see, but we all have things we do every day at certain times of the day. The moves from one part of this schedule to another shape a map of the transitions we do daily. Children tend to struggle with transitioning from one task to another and this can be challenging for their parents. We can help our kids understand transitions, though, and learn how to prepare for them.

Here are some tools you can use to make daily transitions less stressful for you and your child.

  • Why not put your child’s daily schedule in writing and put it on the door to their room? Many of the little things we do during the day are transitions: getting dressed in the morning, brushing our teeth, and getting ready for bed, for example. You can use pictures for your toddler’s schedule so they can see what they need to do in the morning to get ready for the day and later in the day for their bedtime routine.
  • Keep your children aware of where they are in the schedule by giving them frequent verbal reminders that a transition is coming. For example, “It’s three minutes till it’s time to brush your teeth.” Or, “You have ten more minutes of playtime before you must come in to do your homework.” These verbal alerts help the child bring closure to what they’re doing and allow them to begin to shift their attention to the next task.

Both in life transitions and daily transitions, schedules, calendars, and reminders will help them move through transitions more smoothly and with less drama. They just might help Mom and Dad, too.