4 year old son has a really hard time with transitions, suggestions? - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-20-2010, 01:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Background to my question:
My son turned 4 on thanksgiving. He's going through a phase where he's dropping his nap, but has always been one to be really really sensitive to not getting his usual amount of sleep, and even that is I think unusually a lot of sleep (like 11ish hours per day.) Anyway it's been a rough last 4 months with the nap transition, lots of crazy crying on days he wouldn't nap, but he's coming out of it. He really has just been growing out of the intense need for a nap and I know in a few more months there will be even more improvement. Some things just take time to work themselves out ya know.

So what I'm wondering and would love some suggestions on is that he's having a really hard time with transitions. The transition from play to eating, from play to quiet time, transition from play to bedtime, going to run an errand, going to take a bath, etc. Each transition involves lots of protesting/screaming. He's been having a rough time in his class at church once a week (it's an hour long.) Each time they move to a new activity he starts screaming. I know a lot of it has to do with the sleeping transition and I am hoping he will outgrow it. Is there anything I can do now to help? My older boy did the same thing at that age and is a lot better now at 6 but I would love some fresh suggestions, or even the obvious.

Thanks!

Ashley, Jesus loving mama to Jaden (8) Trace (6) and Liam (3) and fost/adopt twins Talia and Oliva (1).  Happily married for a decade! 

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Old 01-20-2010, 01:42 AM
 
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With my ds (who has autism so probably has a harder time with transitions than what you're dealing with, but this might still work for you!) is use a visual schedule on days he's having a really rough time. I have a laminated piece of paper with pieces of velcro on it. Then on the computer I took pictures of places we had to go to or things he needed to do (bath time, brush teeth, bed time, the table that we eat at, etc). I used these to make a strip for each thing we needed to do or place we needed to go (along with the words of what the action is). I cut these out into strips and laminated them and placed velcro on the back. So now I can pull these out and put the strips on the paper in a list format so he can see what comes first, next, etc.

Now that he's reading really well sometimes in a pinch I'll just write a list of what we need to do or where we need to go. This works well for him

Also- have you tried a timer? You could use a really cheap timer (like one of those sand timers- ds got one from the dentist and loves it) so he can see how much time is left for that activity, or you could invest in something more expensive. There's a really cool timer they've used at ds's school that I want. It has a green light (plenty of time to play/whatever), yellow light (almost time to finish) and red light (time's up, time for the next activity). That way ds can look at it anytime and see how much time is left.

Steph, DH Jason (1-1-11), DS Owen (10-3-03) and DS Kai (10-13-11)

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Old 01-20-2010, 11:32 AM
 
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I was going to post the same thing! Simple routines posted on the wall with pictures. It's very helpful for kids to know what to expect -- they feel less out of control that way. One of my kiddos is also on the spectrum and at that age our lives were very routine -- we ran errands on the same day every week. We talked about the next day being errand day the night before, we left after breakfast, and we had lunch the same place every errand day. My child was not one who was OK with random stuff happening, so life needed to be very predictable!

You might come up with a simple act for letting go of playing -- depending on what kind of toys he prefers, he might say "bye bye" to the toys or something like that.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 01-20-2010, 10:52 PM
 
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In addition to visual schedules (which are a great tool - our dd's K uses them for everyone), a couple of other quick suggestions:

The kitchen timer can be a real life saver. I set the timer and say "when the timer beeps, it'll be pajama time. So, finish up what you're doing." Somehow it makes the transitions a lot easier.

I give lots and lots of verbal warnings - "in 5 minutes, we'll do X" "In 3 minutes, it'll be time for X" "we're getting ready to do X".

Ask him what comes next. What are we going to do after dinner? What happens after story time? Somehow if they tell you, then it's easier.

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Old 01-21-2010, 12:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
You might come up with a simple act for letting go of playing -- depending on what kind of toys he prefers, he might say "bye bye" to the toys or something like that.
Or I also let ds take toys (99% of the time it's a train) with him. Sometimes he'll leave it in the car during errands. If he really wants to bring it in the store with him, I put it in my purse (those thomas trains are $$$ and I am NOT dealing with a tantrum from a child who lost it! LOL!). If he's reading when it's time to do something else, I'll suggest he bring the book(s) with him. Usually that satisfies him.

Steph, DH Jason (1-1-11), DS Owen (10-3-03) and DS Kai (10-13-11)

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Old 01-21-2010, 03:28 AM
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At 4 my oldest was giving up naps and having a hard time with transitions too. Even though he couldn't tell time I found giving a count down seemed to help, I'd tell him in 10 minutes we are getting shoes and coats and going to wherever, then I'd pop in on him and say 7 minutes and repeat, then 5 etc etc. It took him a few times but it started to help. It didn't eliminate the meltdowns but helped.
He used to have a hard time going from night time sleep to waking up as well, so I had to make sure he had time to wake slowly, as a toddler wake up was a 30 minute nursing session or it would be tears and tantrums all day.
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Old 01-21-2010, 03:38 PM
 
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My 5 yo daughter does have problems with transitions.

I have mixed feelings about the 10 more minutes, 5 more minutes etc. routine. I do use it, but sometimes wonder if it creates more urgency and angst than strictly necessary.

If I have to go someplace and she wants to come with, I do use the timer and let her know how much time is left before she has to be ready to go.

She's also become a stubborn negotiator--another reason I'm looking for things other than the time limit strategy. Half the time--at least!--if I say 5 more minutes, we waste another 4 or 5 with discussing why not 10.

So when I can, I try to lay the sequence of events out verbally, which works well for her. Today, for example, both my husband and I had to be out of the house earlier than usual, necessitating a change in the morning routine. I gave her a heads-up yesterday and made sure we chatted about how things would happen on a couple of occasions during the late afternoon and evening.

The introduction of a new sitter was done over the course of a couple of weeks. With my kid, so long as we can talk about it, she's usually OK.

Age four's tough. Five seems to be a little better. So far.

Mom of two girls.
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Old 01-21-2010, 06:36 PM
 
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Not off the top of my head, but I know there's a whole chapter on this in "Raising Your Sprited Child."
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Old 01-21-2010, 06:49 PM
 
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My son has a hard time with transitions as well...Here are few suggestions that help us!

1). Make signs. Not just you - get your son to help! Something you do together ...its very important your son is invovled in making them. Then he can have fun hanging them up. Signs for things you do everyday - and preferably something that is done at a, roughly, consistant time. You can make signs for mealtimes and bathtime, etc. He will have fun putting these up on the wall (I just use blue tac!) and then have fun doing the thing the sign says!

2). They are used for children with Autism, but I find they help us as well. Picture Exchange Communication - or PEC. They have some on ebay. 'Now, then, later' - with pictures of what you are doing now, gonna do next, and then what is coming up later. It really does help with transitions!

3). Talk talk talk talk talk about it! What you are going to do next. What you like about doing next. etc. Really prep him! Be patient with this. You will get tired of it - but you will have to talk about it over and over again. If it is a very serious problem with your child, talk about it after each-and-every-thing-they-do-that-day. It will really help. Eventually you won't have to 'prep' so much!

4). Then - use a timer. A SAND timer though. You can get these on ebay as well! They do all sorts. 30 second, 60 second, 3 minute, 5 minute, 10 minute, 30 mins - and an hour one. Get a variety of what you think you might use. I use the 60 second one most - and as its tiny can put it in my pocket for transistions when we are out. I say SAND timer because it is something they can SEE very clearly...sand on top going down to the bottom....no more sand on top! This really helps my sons with transitions. Now he is older, he can 'get' other timers but using the sand timer first - and even still using it every now and then now is much better because for small children, 'time' is a very arbitrary thing to grasp! - they need to 'see' time and the only way you can really 'see' that is with sand timers...one grain at a time! lol ...Many children actually don't get 'In so many more mintues'...whats a minute? What does it feel like? Even as an adult, its hard to describe. And most people I know who say things like that, usually mean that if it doesn't happen - then a punishment of some kind will...which IMO is what gets a child moving than the fact you have helped them with any transition/they know whats coming up next and can move on, etc... so never use this as a 'threat' - just use it to help them ease into what is going to happen next. The sand timers purpose is simply so they can 'see' what is very arbitrary. My son never felt he 'had' to do YZ after doing X 'or else' - iykwim)

5). Some children who do have a very hard time with transitions, don't necessairly need a 'schedule' but a predictable routine. If you don't have one - try and create one. If you can, create this with your son so that he is being invovled in this process and will feel more in control about it all - and, therefore, will have a less hard time with the transitions.

6). Give yourself plenty of time. If it takes you 10 mintues - it will take 30 minutes with your son! Allow for this! It will help you feel less stressed and pressed for time and in turn, help your 'relaxed' attitude rub off on your son....Cause if you are starting to feel stressed - they really pick up on that!!!

7). Bach flower remedies! Oh there are so many! Have a google. You can get a mix just right for the both of you. They REALLY help. They help both my son and I centre our emotions and it really just helps the day run smoother if we are in need of them. Don't knock em till you have tried them. A simple 'rescue remedy' might be enough as a starter in trying them out - but we do like getting our own personal bottles made up for us! (there are ebayers that do this as well!...can you tell I love ebay? lol)

Hope those ideas help!

Mummy me : > Thats Ann! and my beautiful SONS Duncanand Hamish 19/09/05 & 22/04/10!
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Old 01-22-2010, 12:25 AM
 
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Old 01-22-2010, 04:36 PM
 
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We have had great success with timers-- we just use our iPhone timers at the playground-- but I love the idea of a sandtimer, especially for use in the bedroom for bedtime stuff. It just seems less obtrusive, or something, and I agree with the benefit of it being visual.

It's so weird... If I TELL my DS that we have 10/5/3/1 minutes left on the playground, he'll sometimes be okay but will mostly still protest. But with the timer-- that thing goes off, and he heads straight for the van. Crazy.
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