Transitions could be a real flash-point in our household. Transitioning from the house to the car could take forever and often would not happen at all. The build up to leaving the house could involve one delay tactic after another. Often, most of the contents of the house would also have to leave with us as comfort items.
If we were out somewhere E.G. a park, swimming or play area then we would experience the same difficulties in getting her to leave and come home. Being stuck at a park as dusk sets in when you have been there since 3.30pm really is no fun for anyone. Especially when the size of the child coupled with the ferocity of their meltdowns makes physically removing them more and more difficult.
There is going to come a time, either through the increasing size of the child or perhaps due to the physical health of the parent when physical intervention may cease to be possible. This is why the approach that my parenting has taken has often been to try to find an alternative way to resolve issues.
So lets have a think at what could be the reasons behind the difficulties with transitions.
- Here and now is safe but moving onto something different is the unknown and anxiety provoking.
- It may be difficult to come to terms with and to emotionally process that a pleasurable activity has come to an end.
- Transitioning from one thing to another actually involves complying with a demand.
- Leaving an activity when others are still there having fun may mean that the individual feels sad and finds it difficult to regulate this emotion. It also means that things will be carrying on and be beyond their control if they are no longer there.
- Allow plenty of time to transition from the house to the outside world.
- If you need to be somewhere for a certain time inform the individual and let them choose the best time to leave.
- Be patient when the delay tactics begin and don’t try to hurry them along because this can make them more resistant.
- If you begin to run late try to stay chilled and phone ahead to tell wherever you are going that you will be a little bit late.
- I have sometimes found that if the child is watching something on an Ipad or phone that this can be helpful. If they continue with what they are watching with headphones on it can help them to transition with more ease to the car. This may be due to the distraction that it offers, which may prevent them from over thinking what is to come. It may also provide continuity and a feeling of comfort during the transition.
- Provide a safety net to build confidence and security i.e. if you are uncomfortable when we get there we can come straight back home.
- Arrange to visit places with a view to staying until the venue closes. It can be easier for them to transition if everyone is leaving at the same time and the venue is actually closing.
- Allow plenty of time for them to come to terms with the fact that the activity is over. Don’t rush them out of the venue. Explain to staff what the issue is and that you would greatly appreciate a little bit of time and space.
- Make leaving fun, play a game on the way to the car, get an ice-cream on the way home. Think of something nice that you can do with your child when you get home E.G. watch a TV show together snuggled under a duvet. What you are trying to do is to gradually stretch the transition out so that it doesn’t feel like a sudden stop.