Mental Health, Uncategorized, What's New|

Every day when his mother drops him off at child care, Jack cries. Then when she comes to pick him up, he throws a tantrum because he doesn’t want to stop playing with his friends and go home. Jack’s mother says he does the same thing at home: whenever she tells him it’s time to do something else or go somewhere, he resists.

Unlike some children who can easily go with the flow of whatever’s happening, Jack has a hard time with transitions and his resistance is disruptive and frustrating.

The Importance of Routines

Routines help make transitions easier. In addition, they:

  • Play an important role in the development of young children and help children learn about normal human interaction.
  • Provide predictability and are comforting.
  • Reduce power struggles between caregivers and children.

Tips for helping children handle transitions

  • Create a ritual that the child can expect: at bedtime, brush teeth, read a story, sing a song, hug and kiss.
  • When you leave your child, give them something to keep until you come back, such as a picture or other small object.
  • Give advance warning: “You can finish playing your game and then it will be time for bed.”
  • Make transitions fun: for cleaning up toys before bed, sing a song: “This is the way we pick up toys.”
  • Let the child choose how to make the transition: “Do you want to play one more game before we get ready for bed?”
  • Especially in a child care setting with lots of children, help children develop the skills they need to transition from one activity to another more quickly: putting on and taking off coats, lining up, cleaning up toys. Less time spent in waiting for everyone else might help decrease problem behaviors during transition times.


Get information on what changes you should expect as your child grows with the Developmental Milestones Checklist

Call Pennsylvania’s CONNECT Helpline at 1-800-692-7288 for information about your child’s development and connecting to Early Intervention Services in Pennsylvania.

Get information about the Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Project.

Click here to print the infographic: Handling Transitions.

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