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“Help! Transitions with my son are the worst!”

Janet discusses how to make transitions more peaceful and productive with Jennifer.

Vlog with Jennifer - Transitions
Click HERE or on the image to listen to the 8-minute video.

Jennifer, mom of a 5 year old boy recently asked, “My son has trouble with transitions. Going to school in the morning, leaving a play date, or getting out of the house to go to the grocery store are difficult for him – and me!”

“How can I help him be more productive and help both of us have more peaceful transitions?”

Janet responds:

What comes before?

Notice your patterns. What comes before the “transition melt-down moment”? Are you rushing around? Are you commanding/demanding/nagging/reminding from the other room?

Imagine yourself in the place of your child for a moment. How would you feel to have your boss or significant other using just the words, body language, and unseen energy that you are giving to your child at these moments of transition? Yuk. We would’ve quit that job long ago!

It is HARD to leave what we’re doing. For adults. For children.

What to do instead –

Engage with him IN HIS WORLD for just a minute or two. If he is busy building a fort, be with him – FULLY engaged. (Sounds easy, takes practice). Now, use that moment as the catalyst for transition. Building a fort? Use that imagery to propel you both to the next activity. “We need to search for more branches, let’s brush our teeth and go in search of them.” You get the idea. Live into HIS pretend and stretch the bounds of your imagination, too (never a bad thing).

Children nourish us by being in the present. When we allow ourselves, we can fully immerse with them and forget about our busy adult lives. When we emerge from their make-believe, we are refreshed on a soul level. The present really is the ONLY place we can actually be…might as well enjoy it!

A ‘Magic’ Word –

Using the word “Let’s” with the accompanying ‘sweeping gesture.’ This works especially well with the young child. “Let’s go brush our teeth.” Then do it together rather than you being the director and he the actor…and likely a very reluctant one.

Jennifer comments, “I’ve tried reminding him, telling him what we have to do next, preparing him with all the steps to our day. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.”

“Just Tell Me ONE Thing!”

Fewer words, please! Many husbands, boyfriends, and sons would like to tell their wife, girlfriend, and mother those very words. And, indeed, I’ve had many report to me that they have!

Females talk — a lot! We process while we’re talking, compelling us to talk even more! The male brain works with language differently – it has fewer places to process all those words you use.

When you describe every step, ask multiple questions, and keep up a constant stream of chitter-chatter, you may be overwhelming his brain and he will likely:
• Ignore you
• Get silly or angry
• Have a meltdown

Silence really is golden! He just wants you to BE with him. So give him concise information, no more than necessary. He doesn’t need a run-down of the whole day, especially if you have a strong rhythm to your day’s routine.

Where are you when you talk to him?

Many times, as busy parents, we find ourselves giving directives from the kitchen up to the bedroom, from the bedroom down to the playroom…you get the idea. It is really easy for him to tune you out when he doesn’t have the physical connection with you..which means you nag, say it more, say it louder, etc.

Take a moment to go to him – enter into HIS world, his space, for a moment – put your hand on his shoulder and ask your question, make your request. As a wise speech teacher used to say to me, “Be direct, be brief, and be seated.”

When all else fails – SING!

Another wonderful way to facilitate transitions (known by many a wise preschool teacher) is to SING through the transition. It can be a silly song or a tried-and-true favorite. An added benefit to singing is that your breathing and heart rate become synchronized – what better way to face the world together than that?! (see article here)

Join him in his world FIRST.

THEN, with imagination and certainty, move him smoothly through the transition to the next event. Take the moment you need to be fully and deeply connected to him and your breathing and hearts will beat in unison and harmony.


If you’re struggling in this area (like many parents), join me for a 20-minute complementary Discovery Call here.


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