Five Ways to Smooth Transitions for the Whole Family

Lonely child sitting on staircase

Having four kids means it’s never simple to move from one activity to another. When we leave the house, we have to find shoes, bring snacks, and strap into car seats. However, more than the physical toll of transitioning from one task to another, the mental cost is what breaks me.

One of my children is an orchid child, a child who can be thrown off course completely by small changes, so that adds another layer to trying to move everyone from one activity to the next. If I’m going to lose my cool, it will likely be when trying to herd four kids away from playing with blocks and into the car to run errands. Those are never my shining moments.

There are tips and tricks for making transitions easier, and many of them start with understanding how kids work. Giving in because a child throws a tantrum about not wanting to go somewhere simply teaches her that having a fit gets her what she wants, but fighting every time we need to leave the park to go home for dinner is exhausting. That’s why looking deeper and changing how we approach transitions is essential for everyone’s wellbeing.

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All kids need routine, and highly sensitive children thrive best when they know what to expect. Plan the next day and have a family meeting before bed to talk about what’s going to happen tomorrow. Every day is not going to be exactly the same, but try to keep some patterns in place, and alert kids early when the upcoming day is going to be out of the ordinary.

This is also a great way to give kids tools for how to handle change. Neuropsychologist Dr. Karen Spangenberg Postal says that we can teach our kids self-regulation by modeling it and showing them how to create cues for themselves. When we talk to them and help them prepare for a day of transitions, this gives them the skills to implement this practice themselves when we’re not around. They may be better equipped to look at their day as a whole and then view it in parts, making sure to notice the transitions that are looming so they’ll be…

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