“The only constant in life is change” – Heraclitus
Does your child struggle with ending activities, trying new things, or engaging in non-preferred tasks/demands? Transitions can be difficult especially when a child is not expecting the change. Advanced preparation, knowledge of perceived consequences, and balanced thinking can all aid in smoother transitions and overall compliance with directives.
Whether your child is anticipating a new ballet class or only has 20 minutes for the iPad, providing your child with clear expectations will help them transition. Having a conversation with your child a couple weeks in advance to identify any worries or fears regarding the new class, as well as identifying the positives, can help the child feel more in control and ready for something that doesn’t seem so “new.” Visiting the space, meeting the staff, and purchasing cute leotards can all challenge negative thinking and help the child view this new task as positive and familiar. In the event of transitioning from one activity to another, using a visual clock or kitchen timer as well as periodic reminders can assist your child in preparation to leave the iPad when it’s time.
Easier said than done…
Help your child create more balanced thinking by incorporating cognitive flexibility skills so they don’t feel like the world is over when you take away their preferred item.
Problem solving: help your child to come up other alternative solutions to the problem.
Ex: “When the iPad is over we can identify another time either later today or tomorrow you can use it” or identify another fun thing you can do if the iPad is not a choice (i.e. reading, TV, coloring).
Identify the positives in what will come next.
Ex: “I’m hungry for dinner, glad that’s now”, “going to the dentist so my teeth can be clean and healthy.”
Identify the size and severity of problem.
Ex: “Getting off iPad is a small problem compared to getting sick and missing my birthday party or a highly anticipated concert or baseball game.”
Have your child evaluate the potential consequences of their actions.
Ex: “If you don’t get off when I ask, what will happen…”
“I will lose dessert, I won’t be able to go on iPad the rest of the week. I might miss sleepover this weekend.”