Transitions are hard. None of us like leaving something fun for something we believe to be not as fun. And when you’re a toddler, transitions pretty much mean the world is ending and your parents are evil doers.
Rylan is, in general, an easy going kid. Most of his “moments” are standard two-year-old outbursts. Share a Thomas the Train book, mom? You must be out of your damn mind. Stop making strawberry soup in my kitchen and take a bath? You’re totally nuts dad.
Since reasoning with Rylan when he is mid-tantrum isn’t an option (it’s like gasoline on a bonfire), I’ve started trying to exert some semblance of sanity around the transitions I can, sometimes, control.
Dinner → play → bath → book → bed is the main transition of angst on hectic week nights. So, at the suggestion of an understanding daycare teacher, we have started using a timer for the most difficult part, ending play time. Once dinner ends and Ry picks his pre-bath activity we make a very clear display of setting a timer on our phone based on how long he has before clean up needs to begin. We tell him the timer is being set, show him if he wants to look at the screen, and then ask him to repeat back what happens when the timer goes off. Rylan responds really well to very clear instructions when we engage him in repeating them.
The system isn’t perfect. The timer going off usually results in some fake crying and pouting. But, let me tell you. Nine of 10 times he begins to clean up and make his way to the bath. I am a firm believer in structure (oh wow, shocker I know) and more and more, I recognize that he’s my son in that same way.
The timer gives toddler’s a way to grasp time and the beginning/ending of a set period of time. Type-A, controlling toddlers. Sorry, Mike. At least he looks like you!
Do you set timers for transitions or other sensitive times around your house? What works?! Please share.